This article was originally published June 29, 2022, and updated July 13, 2022.
Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, will be laid to rest at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.
Williams, 98, died at 3:15 a.m. on June 29, according to a statement from the Woody Williams Foundation.
“Woody’s family would like to express their sincere gratitude for all the love and support,” the statement read. “They would also like to share that Woody’s wish is that people continue to carry on his mission.”
An official ceremony will begin Thursday morning with Gen. Eric M. Smith, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, in attendance alongside service chiefs and the secretary of defense. Though closed to the public, the viewing will go from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., according to a news release.
Williams established his foundation in 2012 to ensure that Gold Star Families would be honored – one year after President Barack Obama formally recognized them by expanding Gold Star Mother’s Day to include family members.
“For years and years, no one spoke of a person other than Gold Star mother when somebody was lost in the military,” Williams told AmeriForce Media in 2020.
Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, said in a statement that Williams has “impacted thousands upon thousands of lives” through his work with the foundation.
“Woody was a true friend of the West Virginia National Guard and his life inspired so many within our ranks,” Crane said. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Woody and his foundation and for all that he has done for West Virginia, our United States military and for Gold Star Families across the United States. He will forever be an example of the embodiment of West Virginia values and is a hero to not only us, but so many across the country.”
The first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was dedicated in West Virginia in 2013. More than 100 monuments honoring Gold Star Families have been installed and 72 are in progress.
There are now only 63 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, according to The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.
Hershel “Woody” Williams, America’s last living WWII #MedalofHonor recipient, passed away this morning at 98. Woody exemplified a life of service through his bravery during the Battle of Iwo Jima, as an advocate for veterans & through the @WWFoundation serving Gold Star Families. pic.twitter.com/ydZzuy171V
— National Medal Of Honor Museum (@MohMuseum) June 29, 2022
Funeral and memorial service information is not yet available. For more information about Williams’ work and legacy, visit the Woody Williams Foundation website.Read comments