Medal of Honor recipient making it his mission to honor those wh - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Medal of Honor recipient making it his mission to honor those who died in combat

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A World War II Medal of Honor recipient is making it his mission to build monuments honoring Gold Star families across the U.S. 

Hershel Woody Williams is the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.

He stopped in Louisville on Thursday, and he says he'll never understand why he survived while men around him died. 

"I hope in some way I can represent them with you," he said.

Williams spent the decades since honoring his fellow veterans who died in combat and their Gold Star families who suffered the loss.

"A memorial is the only way I think we can do that."

So he created a foundation to build Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments throughout the country.

Enter UPS, which got involved via its Wishes Delivered Campaign.  They transported the memorial that would be erected in Woody's hometown on the company's dime. 

"The wish we agreed to grant was to have our UPS freight operation to transport the 14,000-pound monument from the vendor in Georgia to Fairmont, W.V.," said Patrick O'Leary with UPS. 

But as UPS initially got involved, they learned more, and then wanted to do more. 

For 70 years  Woody thought his best friend was missing in action. UPS found his surviving niece.

"He was shot down and died in the hospital ... 1945 in the Philippines," Williams says in a YouTube video, standing at his friend's grave. "I didn't know until yesterday that (they) had been able to bring you home."

Now the Louisville based air hub has agreed to grant a few more wishes for Woody. 

Thursday UPS announced they'd move five more monuments from Georgia to Barborville, W.V., Fort Knox, Ky., Lexington, Ky., and Philadelphia.

Through it all, Williams is hoping he can honor those who never made it home. 

"We would not have the freedom we enjoy every day had those thousands of individuals not sacrificed their life to make it so."

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