MASON — Hershel “Woody” Williams was this year’s special guest speaker for the 2018 Community Foundation of Mason County (MCCF) benefit dinner.
Williams was born on a dairy farm in 1923 in Quiet Dell, W.Va. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division. During the battle, Williams displayed “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self as he “enabled his company to reach its objective.” Williams’ actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism were recognized on Oct. 5, 1945, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House. Williams is the sole surviving Marine from WWII, to wear the Medal of Honor.
“The Community Foundation of Mason County was extremely fortunate to host Mr. Williams at our 2018 Benefit Dinner in November at Riverside Golf Club. He was quite the impressive individual. MCCF could not have asked for a better individual to support our Community Foundation efforts and inspire our audience to the point most were in tears,” commented Christy Sizemore, executive director MCCF, Inc.
“I have known Woody for a long time and agree with Christy that MCCF absolutely could have not selected a more fitting keynote speaker. The Community Foundation of Mason County did contribute $3,000 to his Medal of Honor Foundation because our Board of Directors were so moved and felt that Foundations supporting other Foundations is exactly what we need to do”, commented Mario Liberatore, board chair MCCF, Inc.
Williams established the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation Inc. in 2013 to erect monuments to families who have lost loved ones in the service, in communities across the country.
A Gold Star family is a contemporary reference to the service flags/banners first flown by families during World War I. A Blue Star signified that an immediate family member was serving in the military during war. If that loved one died, the Blue Star was replaced by a Gold Star. Before joining the Marines, Williams delivered telegrams informing families of their loss in the war.
Williams would later note, “Consideration and recognition of families of those lost in the war was very inadequate.” His foundation has created 35 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the U.S., with another 42 monument projects planned.
Williams served with the 3rd Marine Division on Guadalcanal, Guam and Iwo Jima. During his last battle, Williams, according to the Medal of Honor citation, was part of a unit attacking through a “network of reinforced concrete pillboxes (low, enclosed gun emplacements), buried mines and black volcanic sands.” The citation noted, “His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment.”
MCCF is local in Point Pleasant, located in the City National Bank Building. Those at MCCF encourage all organizations to apply for community grants and encourage the youth of the community to apply for the 20+ scholarships.
For more information, visit mccfinc.org or contact Sizemore at [email protected], (304) 372-4500.