Jul 16 2019
Both chambers of the Texas State Legislature recently passed a joint resolution calling on the Trump Administration to provide a state funeral in Washington, D.C. for the last remaining World War II Medal of Honor recipient upon his passing.
Hershel “Woody” Williams, of West Virginia, is one of three WWII recipients of the Medal of Honor who are still living. Williams has been visiting Gainesville as part of its Medal of Honor Host City events for years and a foundation in his name, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, has been raising the funds for a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Gainesville.
In total, 473 Americans were given the nation’s highest military honor during WWII. The nationwide bi-partisan initiative was led by the nonprofit State Funeral for World War II Veterans Chairman Lee William “Bill” McNutt and spearheaded in Texas by Rep. Rick Miller and Sen. Brian Birdwell.
“I am proud, as a Texas State Senator, a veteran, and a first-hand witness to the 9-11 attacks, that our state is among the leaders in the country to advance this initiative,” Birdwell said. “A state funeral for the last remaining World War II Medal of Honor recipient is a proper way to bid a final farewell to those brave men and women who preserved freedom on earth.”
McNutt pointed out that Texas is one of just three states more than 1 million veterans call home.
“Getting a resolution supporting a state funeral in Washington, D.C., for the final Medal of Honor recipient of World War II from the Lone Star State will have a positive impact on our work in other states,” McNutt said. “We are blessed that a decorated military veteran, a holder of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Senator Brian Birdwell, along with fellow veteran Representative Miller, displayed his love of World War II veterans by getting our resolution passed by both chambers in Austin and signed by Governor Greg Abbott.”
The State Funeral for World War II Veterans’ nationwide campaign calls for the President of the United States to designate a state funeral for the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, as a final salute to the 16 million men and women of the greatest generation who served in America’s armed forces from 1941 to 1945.
The President holds sole authority to grant a state funeral and does not require approval from the U.S. Congress to give one. A state funeral is a 7- to 10-day national event and consists of ceremonies within the state where the honoree was in residence, within Washington, D.C., and within the state or at Arlington National Cemetery where the authorized individual has chosen to be interred. All funeral arrangements are made by The U.S. Military District of Washington, D.C., and involve Armed Forces honor guards, elite military bands or guns support.
The most recent state funerals were Ronald Reagan’s in 2004 and George Bush’s in 2018. The last non-presidential state funeral was Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s in 1964.
Besides Williams, two other World War II Medal of Honor recipients are still living: Francis “Frank” Currey of New York and Charles Coolidge of Tennessee. All three are more than 94 years old.