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