WV’s Real American Hero

June 24, 2011 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

 

The following was submitted by our correspondent, Matt Gillespie:

WV’s Real American Hero
Recently I attended the WV American Legion Boys State Camp at Jackson Mill WV and met Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, West Virginia’s only surviving Medal of Honor recipient.  Mr. Williams is a regular visitor to the Boys State yearly one week long patriotic camp sponsored by veterans of the American Legion.

In the mid-1930s Nazis were purchasing property in New Jersey and holding Hitler Youth Camps.  Freedom of speech laws protected the camps in America, but the World War I veterans of the American Legion decided to do something to combat the Nazi influence.  Their answer was pro-American camps they named Boys State.  The first state to sponsor such a program was Illinois, the second was West Virginia.  Jackson Mill provides the perfect setting for Boys State where boys learn how our government works by running their own state government for an entire week.  Woody Williams, a Marion County native, speaks to the kids about his pride in being an American.  The AL Auxiliary sponsors a WV Girls State program.

Woody Williams earned his MoH on 23 February 1945 when he repeatedly silenced Japanese pillboxes with a flame thrower.  He was recently featured on an episode of “Sons of Guns” on the Discovery Channel.  Prior to watching the Boys State participants in their pass and review from the veterans’ area, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Mr. Williams.  He was upbeat and engaging.  This was a rare opportunity to meet one of our disappearing World War II MoH recipients.

Photos: Blue Shirt; Les Shreve Sr. Commander AL Post #7, White Shirt; Matt Gillespie member AL Post #7, Red Jacket; Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams.

For more information on Woody Williams and the circumstances in which he earned his MoH go to http://www.shadowwolf.org/woody.html For more information on the WV Boys State program visit http://mountaineerboysstate.org/

Matt Gillespie

 

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