Apr 25 2019
Jakob Brandenburg | CBS7
ODESSA, Tx (KOSA) -- The only surviving Marine to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II was in town Thursday, paying his respects to fallen soldiers and their families.
Following the battle of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman.
Williams, now 95-years-old, was in Odessa Thursday, and helped lay a wreath at the graves of fellow Medal of Honor recipients Alfred Mac Wilson and Marvin Rex Young.
“I stood there with great appreciation of two individuals who did not have to sacrifice their life for somebody else, but they did,” Williams said.
Williams also spoke at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School, named after the two West Texans who gave their lives saving fellow soldiers in the Vietnam War.
“We must not forget those who made it all possible for all of us to have the privileges and the freedom that we have,” Williams said. “In our history it has always been true: Somebody is willing to step forward, place their life on the line, and if necessary sacrifice that life so we can preserve these values that we all hold so dearly.”
Williams created a foundation that honors not only those killed in action, but also their families. “Gold Star Families” are those that have lost a loved one in combat, and Williams hopes to build memorials to them in every state.
“Every capitol will pay tribute to these families who gave more than any of us,” Williams said.
With two Medal of Honor recipients buried just feet from each other, perhaps one day a Gold Star Family Memorial will be built in Odessa.
“I would hope so,” Williams said. “That would be absolutely thrilling. You know everything’s bigger and better in Texas, and we admit that. Eventually Texas will outshine every other state in number of memorials. I’m convinced of that.”