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Medal of Honor Recipient Challenges Marines at Fort Sill

Of the 27 brave men who received the Medal of Honor in the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, only one survives, and he was in Texoma today to talk with some of today's generation of Marines at Fort Sill.
Year after year, his presence and his stories capture the attention of the dozens of Marines at Fort Sill who get to meet a legendary leatherneck from the Greatest Generation.

PFC Otilio Martinez says, "The experiences are different because they were in a different time, but the aspects of the Marine Corps are still here. The same honor, courage, and commitment fundamentals that still apply today are the same thing that they went through."

On Iwo Jima, Herschel "Woody" Williams moved through intense enemy fire for four hours to attack Japanese pillboxes with a flamethrower to protect fellow Marines.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman in 1945 and he resolved to act as the medal's caretaker for all the Marines who did not come home from Iwo Jima.

PFC Jonathan Hart says, "The Medal of Honor means everything to me because that's the highest award you can get. That's him putting his life on the line for his country."

The medal signifies Williams' love of country and steadfastness to the Iwo Jima mission.

It's that same allegiance he says he hopes to pass on to today's young Marines.

"Dedication to what I am being taught," Williams says. "That I can do what I am being trained to do and do it well."

And he says that devotion, that commitment to the Marine Corps mission, is evident and he sees it in the dozens of young Marines that are taking in his every word.

"As far as the dedication, the willingness, and the determination to succeed and overcome and win, I don't see any difference," Williams says. "They still got it."

Woody will be one of the veterans available to talk with the public during this weekend's Iwo Jima reunion reception.

That's from 1:30 until 3 p.m. Saturday at the Wellington Banquet Center.
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