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Iwo Jima Hero Honored at Keel Ceremony for Floating Marine Base

The last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the World War II battle of Iwo Jima was honored Tuesday when his daughters welded their initials into a ship named in his honor.

Hershel “Woody” Williams, 92, received the medal from President Harry Truman in 1945 for a four-hour effort to destroy Japanese fortifications with flamethrowers and demolition charges during the fearsome battle for the Pacific island.

The island’s capture was immortalized in a photo of Marines raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

The ship named in his honor is a 784-foot expeditionary sea base — a floating Marine base with quarters for 250 and a flight deck for helicopters and tilt-rotors.

The ship is fourth in an evolving class of seven vessels being built at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan.

Williams said he was humbled that a ship named for a “little farm boy from West Virginia” would “carry my name around the seven seas.”

“This is a miracle that can only happen one time in a life,” he told a crowd of shipyard workers, Marines and Navy personnel, including two other Medal of Honor recipients.

But he added that the real namesakes of the ship are “all of those who gave their lives so we could be free.”

His daughters Travie Ross and Tracie Ross welded their initials onto a plate that will be attached to the ship, a modern version of the keel laying ceremony of maritime history.

The ship consists of only one steel section at this point, but will be completed in the first quarter of 2018. It will eventually consume 21,000 tons of steel.

“We are truly honored and humbled to construct the future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams,” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager of NASSCO. “This ship will serve generations of Marines and sailors.”

The ship is designed as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions. Its 52,000-square-foot flight deck will support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters and eventually MV-22 Osprey titl-rotors.

About the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation:

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation was founded in 1999 by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to perpetuate the legacy of the Medal. Through character development, scholarship and citizen recognition programs based on the values embodied in the Medal — courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism — the Foundation teaches all citizens that they can make a difference in the lives of others. The Foundation also supports the important work of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with Tax ID #25-1828488, the Foundation carries a rating of 4/4 stars for fiscal management, accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator, America's premiere nonprofit evaluator.

About the Congressional Medal of Honor Society:

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by the Congress in 1958 to create a brotherhood among the living Medal of Honor recipients, to protect and uphold the dignity and honor of the Medal, to promote patriotism and love of country, and to inspire our youth to become worthy and dedicated citizens of our nation. Its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. Today, there are 77 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Society is unique in that its membership hopes that there will be no need to welcome new inductees.

SOURCE Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation


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