The Mountain State's last living Medal of Honor recipient has died.
The family of the World War II hero Hershel Woody Williams announced though a post to the Woody Williams Foundation Twitter account that Williams passed away at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Williams had been very active until a recent report of being hospitalized this week
Governor Jim Justice tweeted Wednesday, "I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life and during my time as Governor to be able to spend a lot of time with Woody Williams over the years. Woody was a living legend and was the embodiment to the world of what it means to be a West Virginian."
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner called Williams an "American hero."
“Today, West Virginia and the United States mourns the loss of a true American hero. In battle and in life, Woody Williams was a role model for all of us. For many, he inspired us to military service," Warner wrote
The 98-year-old Williams was a US Marine veteran and was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor in 1945 for eliminating Japanese gun emplacements on Iwo Jima. in 2019, Williams explained to Metro News he didn't see the flag go up over Mt. Suribachi, like the iconic image depicted in the US Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington.
"I saw it immediately after it was up," Williams told Metro News. "The reason I saw it was there were Marines around me who began yelling, screaming, and jumping up and firing their weapons in the air. I didn’t see it go up, but I turned and it was the bigger flag, the second one that went up, so we could see it. I was about a thousand yards away. So I began doing the same thing they were doing, firing my weapon and celebrating Old Glory is on Mt. Surribachi."
US Congresswoman Carol Miller recently renewed calls to pass legislation to allow Williams to lie in state at the Capitol in Washington DC
US Senator Joe Manchin tweeted, "Americans like Woody answered the call to serve our great nation and their sacrifices allow us to enjoy the freedoms we hold dear. Gayle and I are devastated by the loss of our dear friend who meant so much to so many."
US Senator Shelly Moore Capito called Williams one of the best West Virginians.
"Woody embodied exactly what the Greatest Generation was all about: Service to country above self. Not only are his acts of valor on the battlefield well-documented, but the lives he touched in the years since serving had a lasting impact on every person he met,” Captio said in a statement.
The Huntington-based Beard Mortuary announced Williams’ body will lie in state both Saturday and Sunday in the lower rotunda at the state capitol.
The body will be transported from Huntington to Charleston in a processional Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. The public viewing Saturday goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The body will then be moved to the state Culture Center at the Capitol Complex for funeral services set to start at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Williams will be the first person to lie in state at the state capitol since the death of US Senator Robert Byrd in 2010.