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Woody Williams gives Military Bowl a W.Va. essence

Dec. 26, 2013 @ 08:18 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As a small, older gentleman in a red Marine Corps League hat and jacket walked up to the podium at the Military Bowl luncheon Thursday afternoon, many players looked at each other with bewilderment on their faces not knowing who he was.

This 90-year-old man began his speech with a pair of jokes, drawing laughs from the crowd.

After pausing, the man’s voice went from joking to a more serious, hushed tone, and even though they didn’t know why at the time, players sat forward in their seats and listened intently.

That’s when the aura of Hershel “Woody” Williams emerged.

And boy, was it magnificent.

“He’s just a tremendous, tremendous asset not only to our state, but our country,” Marshall University head coach Doc Holliday said. “What a great Medal of Honor winner and he’s a tremendous guy. I’m glad our kids had a chance to hear what he had to say.”

After the initial jokes, Williams, the last living Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who resides in Ona, told the players the proud story of volunteerism of those military personnel who have served in the United States. Serving requires honor, commitment and sacrifice — sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives — to uphold the standards of freedom.

Get more of this story and more Military Bowl advance coverage in Friday's edition of The Herald-Dispatch in print and online.