Congressional Medal of Honor Society

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World War II - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams

Details
  • Rank: Corporal (Highest Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 4)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Marines,
    3d Marine Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: February 23, 1945
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands
Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants, and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Cpl. Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
USED WITH PERMISSION, COPYRIGHT NICK DELCALZO
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: October 5, 1945

    The White House, presented by Pres. Harry S. Truman

  • Born: October 2, 1923, Quiet Dell, Marion County, WV, United States
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