Governor of Justice issues statement on death of American hero and West Virginia native Woody Williams
CHARLESTON, West Virginia – Governor Jim Justice today released the following statement after learning of the passing of Hershel “Woody” Williams, the nation’s last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient and a native of Quiet Dell, Va. -Western:
“I ask all West Virginians to join Cathy and I in praying for Woody, his family, friends, loved ones, and the entire military community of West Virginia and the United States of America. Pray that , though the weight of this loss is profound, we can all take comfort in the fact that Woody’s contributions to our nation have inspired generations, cultivated similar bravery and saved lives.Woody Williams will go down in history as the he was one of the greatest West Virginians who ever lived, and we salute him for all he has given to our state and our nation.
“I have been incredibly fortunate in my life and during my tenure as governor to be able to spend a great deal of time with Woody Williams over the years. Woody was a living legend and embodied to the world what it means to be a West Virginian.
“We are a service state – with one of the highest per capita military enlistment rates in the country – because we are a state where people are willing to risk anything to help their neighbor. We are selfless, courageous and share a sense of duty to our state and our nation. Woody Williams was the shining example of these traits. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave because of the acts of bravery displayed by Woody Williams in the spring of 1945. Stories of his bravery on Iwo Jima have undoubtedly inspired generations of West Virginians to follow the call of duty in defense of our nation and our freedoms.
“But as Woody earned his Medal of Honor fighting on behalf of America in one of the most important battles in the history of civilization as we know it, we must also remember that his service didn’t end when he returned home at the end of that conflict more than three-quarters of a century ago. In the decades since, Woody has used his platform to lead the charge into another battle : an effort to honor America’s Gold Star families – those whose loved ones have paid the ultimate price for defending our freedoms – through his Woody Williams Foundation. Woody has led the construction of 102 Gold Star memorials in the 50 American states to forever honor ordinary Americans who have sacrificed so much.Even though Woody may have disappeared from this Earth, his selfless contributions to our state and our nation will live forever.
“Woody was part of what was undoubtedly the greatest generation that ever lived. The bravery displayed by men like Woody Williams across America and throughout West Virginia will probably never be matched, and we must ensure that their sacrifices will never be forgotten. There are still many World War II veterans in West Virginia, but they will not be with us forever. We should all take this opportunity to reflect on the importance that these veterans have for us. If you know a WWII veteran, thank them, love them, talk to them, listen to their story while they are still with us, it is so important. We must keep their memories alive because when the world was at its darkest hour, they were our shining light.