Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

NH 103913 Corporal Hershel W. Williams, USMCR

Photo #: NH 103913  Corporal Hershel W. Williams, USMCR
Description: Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy, page 279. Hershel W. Williams received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life on 23 February 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.
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Medal of Honor citation of Corporal Hershel Woodrow Wilson, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 279):


"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with with the Twenty-first Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. One one occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame-thrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Corporal Williams's (sic) aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

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