Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams Highlights Veterans’ Night

Hershel “Woody” Williams – Medal of Honor

CORPORAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS, 21ST MARINES, 3RD MARINE DIVISION

The first time the five foot six, nineteen-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams tried to join the Marines, in the fall of 1942, he was too short. The second time he tried, a few months later, he wasn’t: The Corps relaxed its height requirements. He immediately enlisted. He was sent to the Pacific with the 3rd Marine Division and placed in a flamethrower/demolition unit.

Williams took part in the invasion of Guam, which seemed horrific—until he was sent to Iwo Jima the following year. The beach area in Guam was clear and relatively undefended, and the Marines could advance into the jungle. At Iwo, all the jungle cover had been blown away, and the beach became a slaughterhouse.

His company was supposed to hit the beach on February 20, 1945, but there were so many Marines stuck on the beachhead

Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams

Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams Speaks to ALMBS

Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division

The first time the five foot six, nineteen-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams tried to join the Marines, in the fall of 1942, he was too short. The second time he tried, a few months later, he wasn’t: The Corps relaxed its height requirements. He immediately enlisted. He was sent to the Pacific with the 3rd Marine Division and placed in a flamethrower/demolition unit.

Williams took part in the invasion of Guam, which seemed horrific—until he was sent to Iwo Jima the following year. The beach area in Guam was clear and relatively undefended, and the Marines could advance into the jungle. At Iwo, all the jungle cover had been blown away, and the beach became a slaughterhouse.

His company was supposed to hit the beach on February 20, 1945, but there were so many Marines stuck on the beachhead

Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams Speaks to ALMBS

Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division

The first time the five foot six, nineteen-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams tried to join the Marines, in the fall of 1942, he was too short. The second time he tried, a few months later, he wasn’t: The Corps relaxed its height requirements. He immediately enlisted. He was sent to the Pacific with the 3rd Marine Division and placed in a flamethrower/demolition unit.

Williams took part in the invasion of Guam, which seemed horrific—until he was sent to Iwo Jima the following year. The beach area in Guam was clear and relatively undefended, and the Marines could advance into the jungle. At Iwo, all the jungle cover had been blown away, and the beach became a slaughterhouse.

His company was supposed to hit the beach on February 20, 1945, but there were so many Marines stuck on

Woody Williams

2014 ALMBS – Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient “Woody” Williams

Hershel Woodrow Williams was born on 2 October 1923 in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. He worked as a taxi and truck driver before enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve from that state in May 1943. During the summer and fall he received recruit training at San Diego, California, and advanced training in the use of flame throwers and combat demolitions. Williams served overseas on New Caledonia and Guadalcanal with the THIRD Marine Division and, as a member of the Twenty-first Marines, took part in combat action on Guam.

With the same unit, Corporal Williams was a Demolition Sergeant during the Battle for Iwo Jima. On 23 February 1945, when American tanks were held up by Japanese guns, minefields and rough island terrain, he advanced alone and, in a four hour effort while under terrific fire, utilized demolition charges and flame throwers to annihilate many enemy positions, thus enabling his company to

Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams Speaks at Veterans’ Tribute Assembly

Corporal Williams was a Demolition Sergeant during the Battle for Iwo Jima. On 23 February 1945, when American tanks were held up by Japanese guns, minefields and rough island terrain, he advanced alone and, in a four hour effort while under terrific fire, utilized demolition charges and flame throwers to annihilate many enemy positions, thus enabling his company to reach its objective. For his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life,” he was awarded the Medal of Honor. As the desperate struggle continued, on 6 March he was wounded in action. On 5 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Corporal Williams with the Medal of Honor during ceremonies at the White House.

Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams

President Harry S. Truman presented Corporal Williams with the Medal of Honor during ceremonies at the White House.