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  • Writer's pictureDon Milne

The Death of the Last and First Medal of Honor Heroes of WWII

The June 29, 2022 death of Hershal Woodrow Williams marks the passing of the last Medal of Honor recipient of World War II. The deaths of the first WWII Medal of Honor recipients happened on Dec 7, 1941 as a result of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Woody Williams will lie in honor at the US Capitol on July 14, 2022. He earned the Medal of Honor for valor during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Williams was born in 1923. One of the 15 Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor recipients, James R. Ward, who served on the battleship USS Oklahoma, was just two years older than Williams. They were born about 200 miles apart and died 81 years apart.

America has done a wonderful job in documenting the 472 US military personnel who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. There are museums, websites, videos, books, memorials, and more, all dedicated to honoring these selfless heroes.

The heroes who survived the war like Woody Williams were invariably humble about this honor and would be quick to note that the real heroes were those who did not make it home - a number that exceeds 421,000.

For most of the past 80 years there was no easy way to research and record the stories of the WWII fallen, but in 2022 this information is just a few clicks of a mouse away.

Each of these 421,000 US WWII fallen deserves to be remembered and have their stories available to read by smartphone at their gravesites and memorials.

This is becoming a reality as hundreds of volunteers are researching and writing the stories of the WWII fallen. More than 17,000 WWII fallen stories have been completed, but with more than 404,000 names to go, more volunteers are needed to spend 2-3 hours a week researching and writing each story.

To find out more about this growing project with participants from all 50 states and more than a dozen other countries, visit

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