Hershel Woodrow Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

New naval asset named for Legionnaire

On Oct. 21, the U.S. Navy christened the expeditionary sea base future USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) during a ceremony in San Diego.

The ship is the first to bear the name of Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Hershel Woodrow Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Williams’ daughters, Tracie Jean Ross and Travie Jane Ross, who serve as the ship’s sponsors, broke a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to formally christen the ship, a time-honored Navy tradition.

“This ship honors a man who dedicated his life to service – heroic service as a Marine and continued service to his fellow veterans,” said the Hon. Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy. “This dedication will live on in USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams as the ship is deployed around the world bringing additional capability to our growing fleet. ”

Williams is optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions and designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. ESBs can be enhanced to meet special operations force missions through increased communications, aviation and unmanned aircraft system support.

The platform has an aviation hangar and flight deck that include two operating spots capable of landing MH-53E equivalent helicopters, accommodations, work spaces and ordnance storage for an embarked force. The platform will also provide enhanced command and control, communications, computers and intelligence capabilities to support embarked force mission planning and execution. The reconfigurable mission deck area can store embarked force equipment including mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.

Williams is a PUFL member of Post 177 in Barboursville, W.Va. Click here to see Williams talk about his experiences during the war.