History of War


The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military decoration that recognises servicemen and women for acts of extreme courage. Since its establishment in 1861, only 3,525 have been awarded to 3,506 individuals. Twenty-seven of these were awarded for acts of valour during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Of those, five were presented to naval personnel with the remaining 22 to US Marines. This was an astonishing 25 per cent of all Medals of Honor awarded to Marines throughout WWII. As Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said, “Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valour was a common virtue.”

Today, the only surviving recipient from Iwo Jima is Hershel W. Williams. Known as ‘Woody’, Williams was a 21-year-old corporal in the US Marines when he performed what his award citation called “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk

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