Eric Douglas Published

Justice Names Woody Williams To W.Va. Military Hall Of Fame

Capitol - Woody Williams Preparation.jpg

Gov. Jim Justice has named Hershel “Woody” Williams to be the first inductee into the new West Virginia Military Hall of Fame.

Justice announced Thursday that he had officially nominated Williams for the honor. The West Virginia Veterans Council met and unanimously voted to induct Williams.

“I couldn’t be more proud to announce Woody as the first inductee into our new West Virginia Military Hall of Fame,” Justice said in a news release. “Woody Williams was a man whose life was extraordinary beyond belief. Not only was his bravery on the battlefield unmatched, but he spent a lifetime going all across America as a tireless advocate for veterans. He was a wonderful friend to so many and a true American hero to all of us. His induction as the first member of this hall of fame is an incredibly fitting tribute to his lifetime of service.”

Williams was America’s last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, out of 473, when he passed away on June 29.

The West Virginia Military Hall of Fame was created by the West Virginia Legislature with the passage of House Bill 4406 during the 2022 legislative session. Its stated purpose is to honor veterans who went above and beyond the call of duty on the battlefield and who continued to distinguish themselves in service after their return to the state, contributing significantly to West Virginia or the veteran community.

As a member of the United States Marine Corps, Williams served in the Battle of Iwo Jima. His actions in the battle played a significant role in its outcome and saved many American lives. As a result of the heroism Williams displayed, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman on Oct. 5, 1945.

Williams was devoted to improving the lives of countless veterans while working as a Veterans Service Officer for the VA for 33 years. After that, he focused on improving the circumstances of homeless veterans as a primary advocate for, and first director of, the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Barboursville Veterans Home.

In the decades following the war, Williams used his platform to honor America’s Gold Star servicemen and women – those who gave their life in defense of America – as well as the families of the fallen.

To date, Williams and his foundation are responsible for establishing more than 100 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in all 50 states and one U.S. territory, with more than 70 additional monuments currently underway.

The nation’s first Gold Star monument was dedicated at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar. There is another monument like it at the West Virginia State Capitol and is the largest in America.

“Woody Williams is the obvious choice for the first inductee into the West Virginia Military Hall of Fame and I commend Gov. Justice for making this announcement official,” said West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Cabinet Secretary Edward Diaz. “Woody fought tirelessly for our country and for Veterans for far longer than most of us have been alive. There is no doubt that he will be missed. At the same time, however, there is no doubt that his memory will live on forever. He is an all-time West Virginia military legend and a worthy first West Virginia Military Hall of Fame inductee.”

Williams will Lie in State at the West Virginia Capitol Building on Saturday, July 2, 2022. A state memorial service in Williams’ honor will be held at the Capitol on Sunday, July 3, 2022.

Additional details regarding these arrangements will be announced as they become available.