The National D-Day Memorial is mourning the death of Hershel “Woody” Williams, who was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Williams fought in the fierce battle of Iwo Jima, storming multiple enemy gun emplacements to silence the guns that had pinned his brothers down. In the years that followed, Williams worked closely with the Memorial on various projects, including the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. Williams personally chose the National D-Day Memorial for Virginia’s first Gold Star monument and helped dedicate it on Memorial Day 2017.   

Here is more information from the National D-Day Memorial:

Bedford, VA – The National D-Day Memorial is deeply saddened by the loss of Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. A longtime friend of the Foundation, Williams worked closely with the Memorial on various projects over the years. 

“Woody worked tirelessly to ensure the families of those who lost loved ones in war were not forgotten,” said April Cheek-Messier, president of the Foundation. “We were honored to have known him. Woody has left a legacy that will long endure.” 

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was the brainchild of Williams, who fought in the fierce battle of Iwo Jima. Williams courageously stormed multiple enemy gun emplacements to silence the guns that had pinned his brothers down. His example of valor has inspired many since 1945; but Williams was always quick to speak of the bravery of others ahead of his own.

Williams personally chose the National D-Day Memorial for Virginia’s first Gold Star monument and helped dedicate it on Memorial Day 2017. During the dedication ceremony, Williams told the crowd, “For the loved ones who lost a loved one in our armed forces at any time in our history, the war is never over, the loss never goes away. America owes these people an honor and a tribute that we have never given them.”

Through the work of his Foundation, Williams succeeded in ensuring Gold Star monuments were placed throughout the country and now there is one in every state, in recognition of the sacrifice of those families.

“Woody reminded us all that freedom is not free. The price of liberty is borne by our sons and daughters in uniform, and by the families they leave behind,” noted Cheek-Messier. “Now we pay tribute to the man who made it possible. His humble nature, caring smile, and tireless devotion to military families is a legacy we will pass on for generations to come.”