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Dallas family advocates for the State Funeral for WWII Medal of Honor recipient

Williams to be honored at US Capitol


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Sunday that Hershel W. "Woody" Williams, who is the sole surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, will be honored by lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol. 


“Woody Williams embodied the best of America: living a life of duty, honor, and courage,” Pelosi said.

Schumer said: “Woody Williams was an American hero who embodied the best of our country and the greatest generation.”

A family from Dallas, Texas made the leading efforts in the initiative to secure a state funeral for U.S.M.C Reserve Warrant Officer, Woody Williams, with the intention of paying tribute to the 16 million Americans who served during the second world war.


Eight years ago, Bill McNutt, who is the national chair of State Funeral for World War II Veterans, initiated the campaign to secure a state funeral for the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient. There were four survivors at the time.


Bill said it was the idea for a state Funeral for the last MOH holder from World War II came from his daughter, Rabel McNutt, while the family was on their way to her godfather’s funeral, who was also a Medal of Honor recipient.


"I was 7 years old when this first came to be,” Rabel McNutt said. “And it’s really grown a lot into a true organization. We have so many volunteers and state chairmen helping us out. We are recognized in all 50 states. We've received resolutions from 18 state legislatures.”


"There’s still time for President Biden to say we will are going to have a state funeral for Mr. Williams," Susan McNutt said.


"The only push back we’ve ever received is that the big expense of doing a state funeral is the releasing of the federal workforce for a workday,” Bill McNutt said. “Of course, our response is that’s fine. You could do a state funeral on a Saturday or Sunday or a holiday like Independence Day.”

Regardless, he expressed gratitude to Congress for passing legislation that will enable all family members of World War II veterans to commemorate the selflessness and sacrifices of their loved ones.


"This is really a final salute to the greatest generation and one that all 35 million American families who claim a World War II veteran in their family will take great pride in when Woody and his remains are honored under the dome of our Capitol," he said.


Williams, a WWII veteran who served in the Marine Corps, passed away at the age of 98. He was known for his bravery during the Battle of Iwo Jima, where he destroyed Japanese machine gun sites with his flame thrower and fought for three hours against small-arms fire. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman at the age of 22, which is the highest military honor in the United States.


At a memorial event in Charleston, West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin spoke highly of Williams, acknowledging his continuous charitable work for the community. Williams organized an annual motorcycle ride to raise funds for gold star families. 


“It’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Manchin said jokingly “It’s not going to be stopping because Woody would come after me in a heartbeat.”

Manchin he will miss Williams' phone calls, noting that Williams would always provide him with directions and checklists of tasks.


“I’ll miss him telling me how I’m supposed to vote. And when I didn’t, how I made a mistake,” Manchin said.


At the memorial, General David H. Berger, who leads the Marine Corps of the United States, stated that Williams never believed he achieved that accomplishment alone. He consistently recognized the other individuals on his team, some of whom did not make it back home.


“Woody may be the most genuine person I ever met,” Berger said, “He could make you laugh. He could make you care. That was his gift.”


After serving in the war, Williams served in the Marines for 20 years and then worked for the Veterans Administration for 33 years. He was recognized for his contributions by having the Huntington VA medical center renamed after him in 2018 and a mobile base sea vessel commissioned in his name by the Navy in 2020.


“He left an indelible mark on our Marine Corps,” Berger said. “As long as there are Marines, his legacy will live on.”


During his remarks, Manchin stated that Williams would lie in state at the Rotunda, but Pelosi and Schumer stated that he would lie in honor. The key distinction, according to the Architect of the Capitol, is that government leaders and military officers lie in state, while private persons lie in honor.



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