US Navy to name ship after hero from Iwo Jima

Hershel “Woody” Williams holding his Medal of Honor in 2014.

Hershel “Woody” Williams holding his Medal of Honor in 2014.  (AP Photo/Times West Virginian, Tammy Shriver)

The last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima is set to receive a special honor Thursday, when the U.S. Navy names a ship after the veteran.

Hershel “Woody” Williams was honored for clearing concrete pillboxes with a flame thrower while under heavy fire during the World War II battle in Japan. Bullets bounced off the equipment strapped to his back, he told Stars and Stripes. Despite suffering shrapnel wounds, he refused to evacuate.

More than 6,800 U.S. service members died in the battle in 1945, and some 19,000 others were wounded. The photo of a flag-raising at Iwo Jima has become a lasting icon of the war.

“When that flag when up… we got a new spirit. We are going to win this thing,” Williams told Stars and Stripes. He returned to the area last year, as survivors marked 70 years since the bloody battle.

Williams is now 91, and lives in West Virginia’s Cabell County. The Navy ceremony is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Charleston.