Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

WW2 Medal Of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams | Memoirs Of WWII #7

WW2 Medal Of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams | Memoirs Of WWII #7

He asked me in that point in time if I could do anything with flamethrowers against the pillboxes. I said, “I will try.” Much of what went on that day I have absolutely
no memory. From the moment war came to the doorstep of
the United States Hershel Woodrow Williams was determined to
serve his country. Specifically, he had his sights set on becoming
a Marine. That’s what I wanted to be. And I have said, jokingly, many times the Marine Corps uniform was so much more
attractive and they could get girls easier than those
guys in those ugly army uniforms and I didn’t want to wear that. Every Marine is trained to be a rifleman. And then others are trained with some other
job. And we had trained – crosstrained – where
we were flamethrower operators as well as demolition people. So we could do either job, We could blow it up or burn it up. Whichever they needed. Hershel joined up with the 3rd Marine Division and headed to the South Pacific. There the Allies were locked in a violent
campaign to reclaim the lands the Japanese had taken in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. Through this campaign, Hershel would set foot
on islands he had never even heard of before. When I got overseas I ended up on the island
of Guadalcanal, which was the first island that the Marines
had taken in the Pacific. Naturally it was secure when we got there
in late 1943. But in July of that year we went to Guam and took Guam back from the
Japanese. We stayed on Guam, until early February of
1945, we were told we’re shipping out. Nobody had any idea where we were going. Hershel and the 3rd Marine Division were off
to invade a small, volcanic island from which the Allies would be close enough
to stage attacks against the Japanese mainland. The island’s name: Iwo Jima. None of us, of course, had ever heard tell
of it. They did tell us that it was small. And there were you know, there’s 20,000 of us on this ship. Two other Marine divisions were already scheduled to land first. Reasonably, we thought, why would they need so many Marines? And we were told by the briefers that were
briefing us that it probably would last two to three days,
and then we’d be done. We’d go back to our tents that we left on
Guam. But that didn’t work out that way. The first night, after having lost so many
the first day on Iwo Jima we got word over the speaker that we were
going in the next day. The Japanese defense on the island was unexpectedly
fierce and the American casualties had far surpassed
predictions. When Hershel and the 3rd Division hit the
shore they were met with an impassible wall of resistance. We had encountered a large number of reinforces
concrete pillboxes. And we couldn’t bust through them. Every time we would try to advance, there
were so many of them… They had all field of fire because they’re
in a protected area. We’re in an open area. And we were losing Marines very rapidly but we needed to go forward in order to capture the island. My commanding officer asked for a meeting. We gathered in a huge shell crater. He asked me in that point in time if I could do anything with flamethrowers against the pillboxes. I said, “I will try.” He gave me four Marines. The Marines were to shoot at the pillbox that
I’m going to try to get flame inside so that we could eliminate the enemy within. Much of what went on that day I have absolutely
no memory. Under constant enemy fire, Hershel advanced
up the beach successfully taking out one pillbox after
another. When a flamethrower would run out, he returned
to the rear of the American lines, grabbed another, and advanced again to the
next pillbox. Hershel repeated this for hours miraculously, never receiving a single wound. But the Marines providing his cover fire would
not be so fortunate. Two of them lost their lives that day, doing
that. But I was able to advance, with the help of other Marines, I was able to eliminate the enemy within seven
of those pillboxes. That gave us a way of getting through. And once we passed through that protective
pillbox area, then we had the advantage. After five weeks of ferocious combat and over 40,000 American and Japanese casualties the Allies had finally taken Iwo Jima. The cost of victory was far greater than had
been speculated. But recognizing that losses would certainly
have been higher had it not been for acts of bravery like that
of Hershel and the four Marines who protected him, Hershel’s commanding officer recommended him
for the Medal of Honor. When the war ended, Hershel was called back
to Washington D.C. where he and several other Medal of Honor
recipients were congratulated by President Harry Truman. But Hershel, viewing his actions on Iwo Jima
as simply part of his duties, was unaware why he had been invited to such
an event. There were thirteen of us that day on the
White House lawn. Until they read my citation, I had no idea
why I was receiving it. Thirteen of us received the medal. I’m the last of the thirteen. They have all – all gone on. It changed my life completely, of course. Throughout the decades since receiving the
medal, Hershel has remained a shining example of
honor and humility. But he has never forgotten the two Marines
to whom he believes the medal truly belongs. I wear it in their honor. I’m just the caretaker of the medal. Because, particularly those two Marines who
sacrificed their life protecting me, they earned the medal more than I did. I just wear it in their honor and say, I am
the caretaker. To this day, Hershel Williams continues to
serve his country. Since 2010, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal
of Honor Foundation has been establishing permanent Gold Star
Family Memorials all across the United States. The memorials are dedicated to those who have
lost loved ones in military conflict. They lost part of themselves when they lost
their loved one. And, for relatives of those who sacrificed
their lives, those relatives they never have an opportunity to grow up
together and that vacancy is always there. We’re here in this little community to dedicate a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument. Its purpose is to honor those Gold Star Families who made that… who lost that loved one for our freedom.

Reader Comments

  1. "Much of what went on that day, I have absolutely no memory of." That is trauma-related disassociation. The mind compartmentalizes so the body can survive. Man, our generations have no concept of the hardship and suffering these poor men experienced in this war. Thank you, Mr. Williams, for your courage and bravery.

  2. I have never seen a WW2 vet that I didn't really like a lot, not one and this guy, same thing, I wish the kids today could see all of these vets talk about the war and what they went through to provide a country for them to live in.

  3. I wish i coukd shake his hand and thank him for his service. These fucking libtards are taking everything for granted, not knowing men like this are what gave us our freedom.

  4. Such wonderful and amazing men who fought in WWII. These guys are the reason our country became a superpower, expanded into the suburbs, and for a little while after the war the government actually took good care of and respected these guys. Until the generations of spoiled and greedy humans followed

  5. One nation under God, don't skip that part.. these hero's didn't fight to skip the most important part of our national anthem.. 🙏🏼🙏🏼

  6. My great grandpa was in Pearl Harbor but sadly passed away a couple of months ago. I can’t even imagine the stuff he saw.

  7. I hope to one day meet him. He is the last living Medal of Honor Recipient from the Pacific Theatre as well as the last Marine MOH recipient. It would be an honor to meet him.

  8. Absolute essence of bravery, humility and what is just and right
    Brought a tear to my eye
    Thank you very much
    Love from at least 1 Australian

  9. Nike needs to watch this. They're confused. They mistake that idiot who threw his career away, with those who actually sacrificed everything they had, and everything they ever would have.

  10. Woody is from the same part of West Virginia as I am and I am also a Marine Veteran. I ran into Woody at the Charlotte Airport heading to Huntington, WV. He and a colleague were wearing Marine Corps League clothing so, as a fellow member I went up to them and said “Semper Fi”and introduced myself. I had no idea who we was at the time beyond that. We talked for awhile and he gave me his Challenge Coin. One of my most prized possessions now. I was reading a book about Chesty Puller at the time and he asked me which Navy Cross Chesty was up to in the book. Chesty received 5… Great man and a great sense of humor. An honor to be a fellow Marine and West Virginian.

  11. I love and respect you kind sir i am Mr Dr Dennis Vidot for short it's Dennis Vidot born in the United States of America 1-23-1990

  12. These stories told from veterans would make a great WW2 mini-series, as Steven Spielberg did with Band of Brothers.

  13. My father is from Saipan and my mother is from Guam. I lived there for about 1.5 years to spend time with family from both sides as a 11yr. old. Behind my Grandparents farm house in Saipan my cousins and I took a hike to one of the old WWII caves the Japanese used. The cave walls were blackened by the flamethrowers that the Marines used and on the back wall of the small cave there were a few pictures of Japanese soldiers that had died there. The biggest thing that struck me as a kid were the numerous piles of stones outside the cave to mark how many fell there. My cousins and I stood there for a few minutes in silence because we understood what happened here 50 years ago at this cave.

    I unfortunately was only able to meet 1 Marine veteran that fought on Guam and Saipan and I spent at least 20 minutes talking to him and how he was excited and eager to share his story with a young man. By the end of the conversation and seeing his old military pictures during his time in the Pacific Theater, I was awestruck. I put my hand out to shake his and told him, "Thank you for all you did back then for my family." He got a little teary-eyed and nodded his head, the only thing I could do in response is hug him.

    The men that fought in WWII are, in my eyes, living legends and heroes to me. Thanks for this series that you are doing because, yes, they are quickly fading due to old age but let us not forget these men and honor them if we so happen to meet them.

  14. Why did you edit out “under God” in the pledge the kids were saying. Editing out God is what causes war.

  15. My friend Louis served with the US Army in World War II . He was with General MacArthur in the Philippines and he lied about his age. He was in 26th Infantry Division and he worked on the boat . General MacArthur was one of the greatest generals that he has ever known . He is still alive he is 98 years old. He is a Heroic guy.

  16. Everyone overlooked of the Pacific theatre. These guys had it worst compared with the euro. Respect to both, but these guys took it hard in the Pacific. Most American deaths.

  17. Hershel is amazing please shake his hand for me. They don't make them like they used to, my grandpa was an amazing human being. He didn't talk much about WW2 my grandma tell me about it quite a bit. He was one tough man never seen him sad or upset just smiling because he lived for today. Bless him!

  18. much respect to those that give the ultimate sacrifice for those they don't even know. It will always astound me why war happens, please tell me it has to be more than just "GREED". All those lives lost, all those people had families, please tell me their loss is not just because of people's GREED. WAR SUCKS.

  19. The man working the flame throwers life expectancy was seconds not minutes. This man was truly blessed. He had Angel on his shoulder.
    Semper Fidelis.

  20. These men, these men are warriors and heros. Its what made me hound and serve in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan but these men and all those we lost including 7 of my buddies are the heros. The Democrats are destroying America and it's on us who fought to fight back, for them.

  21. I don't buy that he doesn't remember that day. But I understand not wanting to relive it or to glorify combat. He seems far to lucid.

  22. So much love and detail put into these videos, just love it! Great job!
    Also the narrators voice fits perfectly!

    Please keep the videos coming!

  23. Your channel is great, I am from India I love watching this kind of video always feel that I was part of something in my previous birth get so involved in this previous generation, would be great to meet any veteran and share their experience, may god bless them all.

  24. Got some damn whiskey in my eye……..dudes such a badass. How'd he run and use the flame thrower with those giant balls!!!

  25. "Why would we need so many marines?
    Because the brass knew it was going to be a human meat grinder campaign

  26. I find your editing Out of the pledge of allegiance “Under God “despicable.
    Yours is a politically correct and godless generation and have earned my competent.

  27. Man I was dead at the start. He was like the day I got the flame thrower I have no memory then it went to title screen memoirs of ww2.

  28. HAHA on man. There is no honor to kill so much guys with the flametrower. This is sick. In the view of a soldier who fight for his life I understand that. But in the view of a human this is so sick.

  29. Looks like those two marines never left your side bud, you survived the entire war. Thank you for your service.

  30. what happened to "Under GOD" in our pledge at the beginning of this? Damn fool liberals shouldn't be allowed to have anything to do with WWII productions. u just lost a subscriber. Shame on you and yours. I bet none of the men you interviewed for this series would have agreed to tell their stories had they known you altered their pledge of allegiance!!

  31. It's so sad to see humans just fight and KILL each other with all THESE deadly weapons and for what??? I will never understand why we just can't love each other.

  32. Iwo was the only battle in the Pacific Theater where the US lost more than the Japanese even though basically all of the Japanese on the island were killed.

  33. I've often thought of it but wondered why medal of honor people are so humble. looking back at it I can really see they are really holders or caretakers of the medal for all others whom earned it. it's a heavy burden to carry but to all medal of honor recipients. thank you from one soldier to another.

  34. Men of honor! Doing what they did out of love for America their country. Men who risked everything so the freedoms you enjoy today are there for every citizen. They are owed the eternal gratitude of every American. So when you look at the American flag think of all these men. The flag represents their sacrifice. Many never came home. Others came home wounded, damaged and broken. Those who disrespect the flag should be shamed for their ignorance. Thank you sir for your service!

  35. Were the German soldiers of WW2 just doing their duty? Or were they actually the lap dogs of Satan as so ominously portrayed in every movie I’ve ever seen?

  36. As an American I have to say we will always stand together I will always stand alone this man salute to our American flag thank you sir for your service thank you for your family sacrifice thank you sir I'm proud to be an American just being in your presence have your knowledge thank you again for your service sir

  37. listening to this man speak just gives me chills… what hes been through… then he said they " sacrificed their lives… for our freedom"… it hurts my heart to see the disrespect being paid to our flag by ungrateful young people that havent a clue… football players kneeling, scumbags burning it, democrats in congress, and other local politicians completely crapping on mens honor that died for their freedom they so carelessly abuse

  38. It's a complete shame how who ever creates this page removed One Nation Under God from the Pledge of Allegiance.

  39. He says he doesnt remember that day when he used flame throwers……he remembers, but its probably too horrific to talk about. Burning men alive, watching them run out on fire…..i wouldnt want to remember

  40. Thank you sir for your service to this country. I couldn't even think of what it was like to endure this for days. I'm a young man who is just waiting to be a marine. Many kids want to be actors and anything else that makes them millions. To me I have always wanted to serve my country for not just me but for all the men and women that didn't get to come home. It tears me up to see Americans burn then flag that millions fought for. Thank you to every man and women that have served our country🇺🇸.

  41. I truly believe that the showing of these videos should be mandatory in schools. Everyone should know what these men and women went through to give us the freedoms we have today.

  42. Did anyone else notice that the phrase “under God” was edited out of the pledge of allegiance being recited by the children at the beginning of the vid?

  43. 0:26 Anyone else notice that the kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance left God out of it? God built this country thats why he was in the Pledge of Allegiance originally but now that America thinks it doesn't need God anymore alot of schools has took it out! But know this America after Pride comes the fall! But to those Americans that still give God the glory he deserves which is all of it god bless and to all the service men and women out there thank you so much for your sacrifices because I know they are many!

  44. My Dad was wounded in France he's gone now but he loved his country. Watching people not respecting the flag would have broke his heart. These men are amazing Patriots who will be missed.

  45. Pledge of allegiance should be in schools still. These little things eroding over time gives us what we got today

  46. Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, website:

    Support this amazing ww2 vet and donate to his foundation!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *