SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Paying tribute to an American hero, Governor Pritzker requested on Thursday that all flags be flown at half-staff.
The tribute was made in honor of Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Williams, who died on Wednesday at the age of 98, received the nation’s highest military decoration for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Serving in the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Williams’ is said to have fought with “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self as he “enabled his company to reach its objective.”
After the war, Williams returned home and continued his service to the nation as a Veterans Service Representative with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He also founded the Woody Williams Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting Gold Star Families. Although he was a lifelong native of West Virginia, his generosity found its way to Illinois in the form of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument monument in Naperville. Two more monuments are planned in Springfield and Great Lakes.
“Woody exemplified one of the greatest generations of military men and women and is an example of selfless commitment to others – his fellow men in combat – veterans returning home needing support – veterans needing a home and care – and families who suffer the greatest sacrifice of a loved one,” said Terry Prince, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “We are grateful for his service and will not forget his heroism and all he gave for this nation.