Honor Series: Cpl. Hershel Woodward Williams

By Ed Sealy


Occasionally, I get frustrated with my own generation and the ones that are younger. I’m not a fan of what many call the “wussification of America.” I’m sure there are way more politically correct ways to say that, but if I did, then I would be writing to a membership at a country club and not an “Army” of awesomeness that I have the pleasure of training beside on a daily basis.

I’m not sure when it happened or how, but somehow everyone seems to be offended by everything and this offends me. The levels of entitlement have skyrocketed to alarming proportions and yet, I work two jobs to make ends meet and hustle with as much energy I have to continue to grow and learn. But everyone wants handouts and that’s not how my parents raised me and damn sure not how their parents raised them.

This whole rant stems from an amazingly engaging conversation that I had today and that occurred in the very comfort of our own gym.

And it got me thinking… about “The Greatest Generation” to have ever lived. The heroes and soldiers of The Second World War.

These people were everyday people. Raised during the Great Depression, that came from meager lives and joined our military forces for the simple promise of being able to be given clothes and three square meals a day.

People willing to fight for everything that they earned.

People who backed down to no one and to whom, no task was too great.

I have always been fascinated by the history of our great country’s involvement in the two World Wars.

So it is with great pride and pleasure that I present the citation for a living World War II Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient, Cpl Hershel Woodward Williams.


Cpl. Williams was a soldier in the Pacific fighting the Japanese forces on and around the islands of Iwo Jima.

His Citation reads as Follows:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machinegun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by 4 riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out 1 position after another. On 1 occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. 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 and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Cpl. Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

I could never imagine being in a situation that called for such bravery and disregard for my own safety.

But these are the types of stories that remind me to toughen up, not to sweat the small stuff and work my ass off to succeed and expect nothing to be handed out.

I hope the story of Cpl. Williams can inspire each of you to worry a little less about the small stuff and maybe to refocus an area of your life that could use a little kick in the right direction.

As always, I thank you for humoring me and my rant. A special “Thank You” to Jeremy and Hays for inspiring said rant. I hope no one is offended… Keep being awesome out there Army!! Let’s be more like Cpl. Williams and maybe a little less like the Instagram celebrities out there.

Now go register for The Murph Challenge and let’s melt some faces together on Memorial Day as we honor those who sacrificed everything for our great country!

To Register: www.themurphchallenge.com
For Cpl. Williams Citation: http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3066/williams-hershel-woodrow.php

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