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WWII Medal of Honor recipient speaks of community at Marine Corp. conference


Jun 23 2019
Emily D. Coppola | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — United States Marines gathered to fellowship and listen to the keynote speaker, World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woody” Williams, at the 2019 Marine Corps League Mideast Division Conference on Saturday. 

The MCL Mideast Division consists of Marines from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, according to Scott Kirby of the MCL. Since these Marines don’t get to see each other often, events such as this conference give them time to reconnect.

At the conference, the Marines passed a resolution to establish a 311 call line for veterans in need in this division, according to Williams.

“The resolution is to ask for a 311 number to be set up so those veterans who have a crisis such as suicidal thoughts can dial 311 and get help,” Williams said, “The VA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, establishes this number so veterans that might be having problems can call 311 and won’t have to wait on anyone.”

Of the importance of the MCL engaging in communities, such as Princeton, Williams said, “The more we can become involved the more we draw closer together. We have more division in our country now than we have been in since probably the Civil War.”

Along with being one of a few WWII Medal of Honor recipients still living, Williams also received a Purple Heart for his heroic and outstanding service during the Battle of Iwo Jima. After landing on the beaches of Iwo Jima Williams fought for four hours straight under immense enemy fire, armed with a flame thrower, clearing out the pillboxes, or concrete structures along the beach filled with enemy soldiers.

On the same day, Williams witnessed the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi. During his service, Williams was wounded by shrapnel, this being the reason for him receiving a Purple Heart.

“This is time for the Marines to get together and show success and ways to help the veterans in the states,” Kirby said, “At the conference, we do training, meetings, it’s an opportunity for each department commandant to brag on his marines.”

Kirby also said that he and his fellow Marines were looking forward to listening to Williams speak and hear his tales. During his speech, Williams spoke on topics such as leadership and the importance of strengthening a community.

Not only is Williams a prime example of the United State Marine Corps’ true grit, but he is also an exemplary West Virginian. Born in Quiet Dell in 1923, Williams has always advocated for the civilians and Marines of West Virginia. Above all, Williams has made it his mission to honor the men and women who have sacrificed for the United States of America.

To prove of Williams’ life long dedication to the men and women of the United States military, he currently leads his own foundation entitled the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This organization honors Gold Star Families or families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty, by placing beautiful monuments in the family’s community. For more information on this organization, visit

If you are or know of a veteran in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255, text 838255, or chat online at