The citation made it plain. U.S. Marine Corps Demolition Sergeant Hershel W. “Woody” Williams had exhibited extraordinary courage during the bloody, protracted fight for the porkchop-shaped scrap of land in the Volcano Islands known as Iwo Jima. When the month-long fight for Iwo Jima was over, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz remarked that the battle was one in which “uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Williams was born prematurely in the town of Quiet Dell, West Virginia, and at 3.5 pounds wasn’t expected to live. Even then he defied the odds, growing up much of the time without his father, who died prematurely of a heart attack. Woody was attracted to the Marine Corps because of the dress blue uniform but was turned down for enlistment in 1942 because at five feet, six inches, he didn’t meet the minimum height. A year later, the height requirement had changed, and he was accepted into the Marine Corps Reserve. By the time the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines landed on Iwo Jima, Williams had already taken part in the action on the island of Guam during the Marianas campaign. On February 21, 1945, he was 21 years old and found himself in the thick of the fighting. During World War II, 473 U.S. service personnel received the Medal of Honor, and when Woody Williams died on June 29, 2022, he was the last of them. Williams was 98 years old, and after the war he had joined the Department of Veterans Affairs and worked for 33 years, helping others to deal with the effects o


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