Hershel Woody Williams and many other Medal of Honor recipients, will be signing copies of Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor
*4/10/10 1:30 PM at Gainesville Civic Center – South Weaver. Gainesville, TX.
Hershel Woodrow Williams (born October 2, 1923) is a retired United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his outstanding heroism in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
Hershel Williams was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on October 2, 1923. Prior to his enlistment in the Marine Corps Reserve in Charleston, West Virginia on May 26, 1943, Williams was employed as a truck driver for the W.S. Harr Construction Company of Fairmont. He had also been a taxi driver and worked at other odd jobs.
Marine Corps service
Private Williams received his recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, upon completion of which he was sent to the Training Center, Camp Elliott, San Diego, where he joined the Tank Battalion on August 21, 1943.
The following month he was transferred to the Infantry Battalion at the Training Center, for training as a demolition man and in the use of the flame thrower. On October 30, 1943, he joined the 32nd Replacement Battalion. He left the United States on board the M.S. Weltey Reden on December 3, 1943 for New Caledonia. In January 1944, Williams joined the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal. He was first attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Marines and then to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Marines.
World War II
During July and August 1944, he participated in action against the Japanese at Guam, and in October he rejoined Company C.
Medal of Honor actions
His next campaign was at Iwo Jima where he distinguished himself with actions “above and beyond the call of duty” — for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor. Landing on February 21, 1945, Cpl Williams became a distinguished fighting man three days later. Quick to volunteer his services when American tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through a 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 by only 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 flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another.
One occasion saw him daringly mounted on a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower 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.
He was wounded in action during the campaign on March 6, 1945, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.
In September 1945, he returned to the United States, and on the October 1, he joined Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington. D.C. He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on October 5, 1945 at the White House.
On October 22, 1945, he was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, for discharge. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on November 6, 1945. In March 1948, he reenlisted in the inactive Marine Corps Reserve, but was again discharged on August 4, 1949.
On October 20, 1954, he joined the Organized Marine Reserve when the 98th Special Infantry Company was authorized by Marine Corps Headquarters, Clarksburg, West Virginia. He transferred to the 25th Infantry Company in Huntington, West Virginia on June 9, 1957. He later became the (Interim) Commanding Officer of that unit as a warrant officer on June 6, 1960. He was designated the Mobilization Officer for the 25th Infantry Company and surrounding Huntington area on June 11, 1963.
He was advanced through the warrant officer ranks during his time in the Reserves until reaching his final rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO-4). Although CWO-4 Williams technically did not meet retirement requirements, he was honorarily retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1969 after approximately 17 years of service.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.