Hear One Soldier’s First-Hand Oral History of Uncommon Valor in World War II’s Battle for Iwo Jima

The Battle for Iwo Jima was a major turning point for Allied Forces during World War II. The Allies considered the capture of  Iwo Jima Island to be strategically necessary in the campaign to invade Japan, because of its central location between the Japanese mainland and Pacific U.S. military bases.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander of the Allied Forces’ Pacific Fleet, has been quoted as having said, “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded for actions taken at Iwo Jima, which is more than those awarded for any other operation during World War II.

The last living Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woody” Williams, disabled a number of machine gun bunkers with just a flamethrower and a group of four riflemen to protect him. Watch the video below to hear his incredible story of valor.

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Matthew M. Sullivan holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Grand Valley State University, with emphases in fiction and nonfiction. He lives smack-dab between some railroad tracks and Grand Rapids Michigan's third-busiest road, and spends his time studying film and literary fiction.