Meet 97-Year-Old WWII Veteran And Flamethrower Expert, Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams

97-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams is the oldest-living Medal of Honor recipient. His job in the Marines during World War II? Flamethrower.

And he hasn’t lost a step.

Young Woody Was Eager To Join The Marines When World War II Began

Hershel Woodrow Williams, nickname “Woody,” was born in 1923 in Quiet Dell, West Virginia.

When the war began, young Woody was eager to join the Marines. Why the Marines? Woody liked their blue uniforms the most. He thought the brown Army uniforms were “the ugliest thing in town.”

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At just 5’6″ Woody was not accepted at first due to his shortness, but after height regulations became less restrictive in 1943, he was finally able to join the Marines.

His specialty would be as a demolition man, particularly handling flamethrowers.

Woody said the training was minimal and much of it was learning on the go.

“We had to learn that ourselves,” he told The Washington Post in 2020.

Woody’s skill would end up being put to use in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

He Took Out The Enemy And Survived

Landing on the beach with the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines, Woody and his platoon had gunfire on all sides. As his fellow American soldiers were being killed, Woody kept going and shoved his flamethrower into the enemy pillbox.

He killed everyone.

He ended up refueling five times and continued obliterating all enemy pillboxes. Woody also witnessed the historic raising of the two flags on Mount Suribachi.

On October 5, 1945, Woody received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman.

Today, he is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and the only living recipient from WWII.

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Woody Wows The Crowd With Flamethrower

During the Military and Veterans Appreciation Picnic in West Virginia recently, Woody showed everyone that he still knows his way around a flamethrower.

The 97-year-old impressed the crowd when he fired off some fully automatic and single-shot rounds over the Ohio River. He was accompanied by flamethrower expert, Charles Hobson. 

Woody said the event was “historical” and that “it meant a lot” to him. 

It will be a day many won’t soon forget.



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John Hanson

is a professional writer and editor with over 15 years of experience in conservative media and Republican politics. He has been a special guest on Fox News, Sirius XM, appeared as the guest of various popular personalities, and has had a lifelong interest in right-leaning politics.

View Comments

  • My Dad was at Iwo Jima as a Navy Seabee with the 133rd Naval Construction Battalion. My Dad just passed away on 24 May. The only thing My Dad would tell me about Iwo Jima is five words, "I helped fix the runway."

    SEMPER FI MARINE! Thank You for Your Service! I SALUTE You Sir!!!!!!!!!

  • Sir, flame throwers are NOT used today. They are considered chemical weapons and cruel and unusual punishment on the enemy. Flame throwers have been out of the inventory since before I came in on active duty in 1971.

  • Thank you for your service,, but I'm a little surprised that the liberal lefties aren't screaming blue murder about celebrating how you won your c.m.h.

  • There's a growing tendency today to listen to us old-timers with 1/2 an ear. Youngsters are just gonna have to learn the hard way.

  • Love it, still an inspiration even if a grisly way to kill someone to save his buddies lives, respects.

  • America is full of men with that resolve and we need them all......Democracy is imperfect at best but try and find a government that is better.....GB ya Woody....OuuuuuRaaH!

  • As a veteran of four wars from 1988 to 2008, I have the utmost respect and admiration for you and your service.

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