Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Capito’s floor speech.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) delivered remarks on the Senate floor to commemorate the life of West Virginia native Hershel “Woody” Williams, and celebrate his legacy as the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.


WEST VIRGINIA ROOTS: “I rise today to honor and celebrate the legacy of an American hero and proud son of West Virginia. He was always a proud son of West Virginia. On June 29, Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II passed away at the grand age of 98, and tomorrow, rightfully, he will become just the seventh American and the first West Virginian to lie in honor in the United States Capitol Rotunda. It's a well-deserved recognition for a man from humble beginnings when he was the youngest of 11 children.”

EMBODIEMNT OF THE GREATEST GENERATION: “February 23, 1945, a young Marine Corporal by the name of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams was on that same island, risking his life for our freedom. That day, under constant fire, Woody, who was a member of the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division, alone stormed multiple enemy pillboxes, with limited cover, neutralizing one after another, saving countless American lives behind him. He went on to fight throughout the entire five-week campaign on Iwo Jima until our forces finally took the Japanese stronghold, marking a key turning point for the Allied cause. His actions that day, and throughout the war, are the reason why when West Virginians think of the Greatest Generation, we often think of Woody Williams.”

LEGACY OF SERVICE: “What would set Woody apart, I think more than those acts of valor on the battlefield, was what he did after that, how he carried himself in the more than 75 years since the Second World War. Through the Hershel Woody Williams Foundation, he advocated for Gold Star families. I was able to attend a couple openings of the memorials with him and it was quite moving. He worked to ensure that the memories of loved ones lost would go on forever. Today, Woody and his foundation have installed 104 Gold Star family Memorial monuments across this country, with about 70 additional monuments underway in every state. Through public appearance, and his seemingly unending energy and passion, Woody shared his story with the world.”

WOODY’S MISSION: “His mission was to inspire those, especially younger Americans, to answer that same call to service that he did as a teenage boy. As he said years later: ‘The people today need to remember if we ever lose our freedom, we will never be able to regain it.’ He believed that to every core of his body. There’s no doubt in my mind that because of Woody, there are more people who answered the call and chose to serve the United States in some way, shape, or form. What an incredible legacy to leave.”

HONORING AN INSPIRATION: “So, tomorrow, as we honor a great man and tell his story, Woody will still be doing what he’s always done: Inspire us. So, here’s to a life well-lived and a country well-served, even long after he wore that Marine uniform he loved so dearly. Oorah, Woody. Rest peacefully.”

Click here for a full transcript of Senator Capito’s speech, as prepared for delivery.

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