March 03, 2015

Manchin: Name ship after ‘Woody’ Williams | Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — In a letter sent to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Friday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., urged the Navy to name a ship after Hershel “Woody” Williams.

Williams was born in Fairmont, in October of 1923, and is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, Williams earned his Medal of Honor for heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945:

“On Feb. 23, Williams neutralized seven concrete pillboxes from which came devastating machine gun fire. Aided by four riflemen who provided cover, Williams prepared demolition charges and destroyed one position after the other in a four-hour period.”

In addition to his Medal of Honor, Williams also earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in battle.

Williams, now 91, was discharged in November of 1945 and went on to work with the Veterans Administration and worked with veterans in West Virginia for more than 35 years.

He married Ruby Meredith, and they had two children while remaining active in the Methodist Church.

In his letter to Navy Secretary Mabus, Manchin wrote, “I write to strongly urge you to consider naming a U.S. Navy ship for Medal of Honor recipient and West Virginia icon, Chief Warrant Officer 4 retired (CW04) Hershel “Woody” Williams. Doing so would serve as a fitting and lasting tribute to the courageous actions of West Virginia’s resident hero.”

Manchin went on to praise Williams’ service to not only his country but his community as well.
The senator also pointed out that 15 vessels have been named for living heroes since the 1970s, and he believes that such an honor being bestowed upon Williams is long overdue.        

According to Manchin in his letter, Williams still remains very active in aiding veterans and is even scheduled to go back to Iwo Jima this year.

Currently, there are two ships at sea named for West Virginia, the USS West Virginia and the USNS Kanawha, according to the Museums of West Virginia’s webpage.

Manchin wrote his letter attempting to make a ship named after Williams the third vessel at sea honoring the Mountain State.

The letter was sent to Mabus as a result of an 1819 congressional act giving the secretary of the Navy authority in naming naval ships.

Manchin concludes his letter by stating that he looks forward to a response in two weeks.