Woody Williams receives water cannon sendoff ahead of last wish
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Ahead of lying in honor at the United States Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, Hershel “Woody” Williams’ remains received a hero’s sendoff at West Virginia International Yeager Airport Wednesday afternoon.
Williams previously indicated his final wish was to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol for all World War II veterans.
The West Virginia Air National Guard gave a water cannon salute during the departure of 40 of Williams’ closest loved ones and 10 Medal of Honor recipients as they left on a chartered American Airlines flight to Washington.
Law enforcement officials from around West Virginia, including Cpl. Josh Parsons of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, watched the rare honor.
“I think he impacted everyone’s lives, and obviously our world and our country are the way it is today because of his heroism,” he said.
The tributes continued in the nation’s capital with both members of West Virginia’s U.S. Senate Delegation honoring Williams’ on the Senate floor.
“It has been 77 years since Woody Williams quieted those enemy machine guns on the sands of Iwo Jima,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“While he is now sadly gone, the ideals he lived by are not: love of his family, friends, family and service to country above all,” Manchin said.
“Woody Williams was a man of uncommon valor,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to reporters earlier Wednesday.
“He was also a patriot, a caretaker for veterans, someone who looked out for Gold Star families,” Capito said. “He really never gave up on the concept that his generation could make a real difference, and he did every day of his life.”
West Virginians believe it’s Williams’ dedication to a cause greater than himself that will be his lasting legacy.
”I had the opportunity and privilege to meet with him several times -- always a very caring, selfless man, just a real nice guy,” Parsons said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Obviously, there are no more of these World War II Medal of Honor recipients left, and in light of everything going on, it’s been very refreshing to see the honor and respect paid to Mr. Williams throughout this process. I’m very grateful for his service.”
“The one thing he said with great humbleness is this shouldn’t be for me. This should be for all of us,” Capito said.
“Woody lived every day as if he were given a second chance, and we are all so much better for it,” Manchin told senators.
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