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Lubbock honors last WWII Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams

Jul 09 2022
Mateo Rosilesh | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

The sound of taps and a 21-gun salute rang out Saturday morning at the Monument of Courage to honor Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the last World War II Medal of Honor recipient and a friend of Lubbock.

The VFW Post 2466, American Legion Post 575, The Purple Heart, Chapter 0900, Gold Star families and the Friends of the Monument of Courage hosted a memorial service to honor Williams, who died on June 29.

Williams, who died June 29, received the Medal of Honor in 1945 during his service at Iwo Jima where, according to the citation given along with the medal, he made several charges to help the military make advances on the island.

Hensley: Williams was a friend to Lubbock

“His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective,” reads the citation.

Commander Steve Owen, a former serviceman and reader of the citation at the event, said Williams received the medal at the White House in October of 1945 from U.S. President Harry Truman.

Lubbock Mayor Trey Payne was also in attendance, reading a resolution from the City Council that proclaimed July 9 as Woody Williams day.

“(We) encourage all citizens to thank veterans for their service and join us in honoring Woody Williams for his dedication and service to the United States, our veterans and gold star families,” Payne said.

U.S. Rep. Jody Arrington, R-Lubbock, said Williams was from the greatest generation and a strong advocate for the Gold Star families.

Williams' foundation, The Woody Williams Foundation, helped Lubbock advocates erect the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument in 2020 in Lubbock to pay tribute to the immediate families of fallen military personnel.

Arrington read a letter from Williams’ grandson that asked West Texans to keep Williams’ dream alive and encourage Lubbock to contemplate establishing a veterans cemetery.

“We don’t contemplate in West Texas,” Arrington said. “We do in West Texas.”

Those in attendance erupted into applause at the words Arrington said and at the hope of Lubbock establishing a veterans cemetery in the coming years - a goal that even Williams advocated for during a visit to the Hub City last year.

Williams’ favorite song, Last Parade, was sung by local pastor Jeff McCreight. At the end of the memorial, everyone in attendance sang God Bless America in honor of Williams and those who have fallen while serving our country.

“God Bless Woody Williams. God Bless his foundation. There is still work to be done,” Danny Koch, master of ceremonies for the memorial, said in closing.