Jun 14 2019
Grace Runkel | Our Quad Cities
DAVENPORT, Iowa - A WWII Medal of Honor recipient has a new mission in the Quad Cities, and you can help him with it.
Hershel Woody Williams is the last living marine from WWII to receive the Medal of Honor. He earned it for his actions during the battle of Iwo Jima.
"There's very little different between combat in one place and combat in another," said the 96-year-old. "It's people killing people. That, that's war."
Williams knows war better than most.
"When you lose a loved one in war that gives it altogether a different significance than being in combat," said Williams, who lost his best friend at Iwo Jima.
After that, Williams made it his mission to recognize mothers who lost children in war. However, it wasn't long before a grieving father told him, "dads cry, too."
"He couldn't have hit me any harder. Not only did it bring my senses to bear, but it shocked me," Williams said.
That gave birth to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. His foundation has dedicated 48 and another 61 are in the works. He's hoping to put the next one in the Quad Cities.
"For the sake of those loved ones, gold star family members, living in this community who right now don't know each other," he said.
Williams said the grief they feel is something few can understand, but bringing them together around a monument makes sure they get honored, too.
"I cannot put a value on the loss of life. There's no way," Williams said. "This medal, as proud of it as I am, I wear it not because of what I did, but because of the sacrifice of others."
Williams will be sharing his story Thursday morning at Rock Island Arsenal's Heritage Hall at 10 a.m.
If you would like to help bring a Gold Star Memorial Monument to the Quad Cities contact the Association of the United States Army Rock Island Chapter for more info by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.