Woody Williams

My father was a WWII veteran. He served aboard LST 751 in the pacific. When he came home from the war, he had a problem with shortness of breath. This didn’t seem to bother him at first, but things got worse. My mother tried to get him to go to the doctor but no go. She took matters into her own hands and brought the doctor to him. He was diagnosed with Tuberculous. It was determined that he had to have contacted the disease while in the pacific. Which made it service connected and should qualify him for disability. Our family had a friend who worked for the VA, so mom made an appointment with him. His name was Bill Ward. Dad, with the help from Bill, filled out all the paper work. Supplied all of the doctor’s reports that supported my dad’s claim, and it was sent in. Bill explained that it would take about a month to here back. Not so with dad. He received a reply within two weeks. He had been denied. The application was resubmitted and the same answer, denied. Bill resubmitted the application, but this time ask for help from another rep. His name was Hershel Woodrow “Woody “Williams, Medal of Honor winner, United States Marine Corps, Iwo, Jima. Mr. Williams made sure dads application got into the right hands and not some bureaucrat. It was approved. My father passed away in November 1957, he was 47 years old. I was 16 when he died. Dad never naught me very much, not because he didn’t want to but because of his illness he wasn’t able. One time he did teach me a valuable lesson. Dad had some friends over for dinner. They were old Navy veterans from the war. They were having an argument about a sea battle in the pacific. That neither one of them was in, but my dad’s ship was. He tried to tell them they were wrong, but to no avail. He looked over at me and said. Son this is why “You Never Bandy Words With Idiots”. I’ve never forgotten that. This little bit of wisdom has taught me to keep my big mouth shut in similar circumstance.

In November 1962, I was released from active duty in the Marine Corps. I, of course went home and for the first few months I did very little. I worked construction, pumped gas in a filling station and even applied to the U.S. Border Patrol. One of the requirements was that you speak Spanish. Speak Spanish! Hell, I barely could speak English. I was told to learn Spanish and reapply. Ok, you bet.

On a trip to visit family in West Virginia, a relative ask me why I didn’t go to college? Me go to college, are you nuts. That was the craziest thing I ever heard. Her comment was, why not, you sure as hell aren’t doing anything now. By the way she said, the government will pay for you to go to school. I decided, why not, I’ll give it a try. I went to the administration office of Marshall University. I was given the application and I filled it out. In 1960, while with M-4-12 3rd. Marine Division, I took the GED test and received my high school equivalency certificate. The school accepted my GED but needed to retake part of the test. I had to take the English and Literature part. The test was going to be given the next day at one of the local high schools. This all had to be approved by the VA before I could take the test. You bet. I knew the odds on this happening were slim and none. Off I went, application and all the other paper work I needed. I gave all information to VA rep. and his reaction was just what I expected. He told me that this would take a couple of weeks and even then, I may not get it approved. I was then told to give him a call in a week or two. I was walking out the door and an older gentleman was coming in. He said how is everything going. I told him not so good. He asks what the problem was, and I explained as much as I could. He said, come with me. We walked back to the disk of the rep. I was talking to. He handed him my paper work and said get this handled today and I mean today. I was told to come back later in the afternoon. Later that afternoon, as I walked back into the office, needless to say I expected just the opposite of what happened. My application was approved. You’ve got to be kidding. I said thank you. He said don’t thank me, thank Woody Williams. That’s right Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor Winner United States Marine Corps, Iwo, Jima. The same Woody Williams that helped my father almost twenty years before. I walked over to Mr. Williams and said, Simper Fi and thank you. In reply, he said just what you’d expect him to say. Do or Die and good luck Marine.

Woody Williams is 96 years old and doing strong.

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10 thoughts on “Woody Williams”

  1. SGT. GRIT
    IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET THE FACT THAT THE MEDAL OF HONOR IS “AWARDED” AND NOT ‘WON’, TO ALL THOSE PEOPLE THAT THINK THAT A GAME IS BEING PLAYED DURING WAR TIME,AND THE ‘WINNER’ GETS THE MEDAL! I LEARNED THIS THE HARD WAY WHILE AT BOOT CAMP P.I. BACK IN 1962. OUR DRILL INSTRUCTED MADE IT A POINT TO ‘DRILL’ IT INTO OUR CRANIUMS. SEMPER FI

  2. It has always been my opinion that medals for heroism are “awarded” due to being “earned”. Earned by the sacrifice of the recipient’s own blood and/or life without regard to their own safety. The only “winner(s)” are the lives saved….Bob Mauney 1381 Vietnam 1966-1967.

  3. It is those little things, the chance meeting, or phone call that can make a world of difference. But, it is that Brotherhood we share, to look out after one another…even through the years. That is what makes it truly unique.

    Great story, Semper Fi.

  4. The official MOH citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, (date of Act), has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to (name of recipient)….. Maybe this leads to the confusion over including the word “Congressional “.

  5. The story is of Marines taking care of Marines and not worrying about the exact wording on the Medal of Honor . God bless Marines like Woody Willams who walks the walk and can talk the talk ,cause he’s been there and done that.Semper Fi and keep the faith .

  6. A MARINE OR ANY MEMBER OF THE MILITARY WHO GETS A MEDAL OF HONOR FOR WAR TIME HEROISM IS A HERO IN MY BOOK. A GUY WHO IS A LOT LOT BETTER THAN ME. WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE WORDING. IT’S THE MEDEL OF FREEDOM THAT THEY HAND OUT TO THEIR FRIENDS WHO DID NO FIGHTING THAT BOTHERS ME. COMMENTS WECOME.
    DO LIKE THE SIZE OF THE TEXT IN THIS NEW FORMAT. HELPS US HALF BLIND MARINES.

  7. Woody Williams is a genuine hero…I have met and talked with him personally. He shared with me that one of the reasons that he wears the Medal of Honor is to honor all the men that paid the ultimate sacrifice on Iwo Jima. He continues to exemplify the high standards of the USMC at the age of 96. And I now go, not just to the VA Medical Center but I go to the Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center.

  8. Every real Marine knows that you do not win the M.O.H. it s awarded .Maybe some civilian wrote this.
    Semper Fi God Bless the Marine Corps

  9. It was a great pleasure to once again read of an incident that proves it’s true that without contradiction the phrase, “ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE!” Although one never expects a situation to arise in one’s life of the portent of the Chuck Wilson story regarding similar incidents 20 years apart of a father and son, the brotherhood of Marines proves the love of men who share a common bond, that although they may not have walked the exact path, there remains a shared spirit, goal and an appreciation for the same ideal among one another…..SEMPER FIDELIS! May we always remember, GOD, Country, Corps!

  10. Man, this sounds like my Dad’s story. He served in 1943 and was in the Pac at Guadalcanal and a couple of other places. He had been wounded while on patrol and again when he was a machine gunner. He had the same thing happen to him where he contracted TB and filed after he had been discharged. He got worse as time went on and he finally got a small check of $166.00 a month. He fought and fought for help from the VA and was FINALLY hospitalized at Sassaquin Hospital in a Accushnet, MA (a TB place) on March 11, 1959. At 3:30am, March 12, Mom was called to the hospital. Police took her there. By 6:00 am he passed with lungs filling with fluid–suffocation they stated. He had been bedridden for the last 9 years of his life. After years of fighting the VA, Sen Ted Kennedy helped her get survivors benefits. I spent 6 months where all I did was walk a few miles to the cemetery where he was buried, and as I had when he was alive, sat with him by his grave and “talked.”

    I was 15. At sixteen, I was forced out of the house by my Mother and grandparents. I signed up with the Corps as my Dad had to “be like him” and have the respect for me that I had lost when he passed. My middle son joined the Corps when he was old enough and my step grandsons both joined in the past five years. So we are a MARINE family. I was at PI and Graduated Sep 27, 1961. My son and stepsons all went to San Diego, CA . I think they are both Sgt E5 last I heard. I know they moved up pretty fast so they may be higher now.

    So, Semper Fi from all of us.

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