‘They helped me receive it’: 96-year-old Medal of Honor recipient honors Marines who fought beside him

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – At 96 years old, Cpl. Hershel “Woody” Williams remembers a lot about his time fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Like the moment the American flag was famously raised.

“The Marines around me were shooting their weapons into the air. I didn’t know what was going on until I looked and Old Glory had been put up on Mount Suribachi,” Cpl. Williams said.

He also remembers the nerves he had standing before President Harry S. Truman to receive the Medal of Honor.

“He’s holding the bottom of the medal. His left hand is around my neck right there, and I have always thought he did that so I wouldn’t jump out of my shoes!” said Williams.

The fright of meeting the president that day pales in comparison to what led up to it, when he and his unit encountered fortified enemy pillboxes on Iwo Jima.

“My commanding officer asked me if I thought I could do anything with a flamethrower up against those pillboxes,” Williams recalled.

Surrounded by just a handful of marines to protect him, he charged ahead.

“As I would approach a pillbox, they were supposed to be shooting at the pillbox to keep the Japanese from being able to shoot at me, and I went to work, just doing my job,” he said, remembering the day.

In four hours, he destroyed seven pillboxes. Two men died protecting Woody that day.

“I wear it in their honor, not mine. I have always said I’m just a caretaker of this medal because they helped me receive it,” he said.

Williams is currently in town for this year’s Medal of Honor Convention being held in Tampa Bay. The convention started Tuesday with an opening reception at the Straz Center.

LATEST NEWS:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos

St. Pete police thank local healthcare workers

Thumbnail for the video titled "St. Pete police thank local healthcare workers"

Do the ZooTampa animals know we are gone?

Thumbnail for the video titled "Do the ZooTampa animals know we are gone?"

Plant City Sunoco surveillance video

Thumbnail for the video titled "Plant City Sunoco surveillance video"

CarMax to furlough more than 15,000 associates

Thumbnail for the video titled "CarMax to furlough more than 15,000 associates"

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

Thumbnail for the video titled "The latest on the coronavirus pandemic"

Police seek alleged peeping Tom in Clearwater

Thumbnail for the video titled "Police seek alleged peeping Tom in Clearwater"

Funeral Homes adjust services amid pandemic

Thumbnail for the video titled "Funeral Homes adjust services amid pandemic"

Thursday Morning Forecast

Thumbnail for the video titled "Thursday Morning Forecast"

8OYS investigates: WHO says people don’t need masks, CDC says you do

Thumbnail for the video titled "8OYS investigates: WHO says people don’t need masks, CDC says you do"

a Clearwater community sings "God Bless America" together every night

Thumbnail for the video titled "a Clearwater community sings "God Bless America" together every night"

Are Medical Reserve Corps in Tampa Bay ready for pandemic peak?

Thumbnail for the video titled "Are Medical Reserve Corps in Tampa Bay ready for pandemic peak?"
More Local News

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss