The late Woody Williams will never forget the odor of burning human remains.
“There are some things about that 4 hours that have bothered me my whole life… I can’t remember going back and getting the other 5 flamethrowers. It was so horrific, I didn’t want to remember.”
I was introduced to death by flamethrower after learning of Mr. Williams. He went thru 5 – 70 lb flamethrowers in a 4-hour battle on Iwo Jima. Two of the Marines assigned to him were killed that day protecting his life. At the time of this interview in 2017, he was the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle, and the last surviving Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in World War II. Mr. Williams died in 2022.
I asked Woody, “What did you know about Iwo Jima before you got there?” His response, “Not a thing!” Later he saw the flag raised on Mount Suribachi, but didn’t consider the significance at that time. He had a job to do and wasn’t reveling in the moment.
His story is remarkable. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by Pres. Truman, but admits being more nervous to meet the Commandant of the Marine Corp than the President. He shares with us what both these men told him regarding the medal. He didn’t know anything about the MOH beforehand. Even the day he received it he didn’t know what it was about.
Awesome interview. You should read his medal citation below and learn more about him at these links:
Learn about his foundation:
*originally published Oct 30, 2017