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Of the 16 million men and women who served in World War II, 473 men received the Congressional Medal of Honor. At our nationwide organization, State Funeral for World War II Veterans, we believe that the last Medal of Honor holder’s funeral from WWII should be on a scale befitting his position in history.

When our non-profit began our effort to secure this honor five years ago, there were four Medal of Honor legends from the Second World War still living.

The death of the last one, U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams, Iwo Jima, on June 29, 2022, offers the perfect opportunity for a grateful nation to provide a final salute to those whom journalist Tom Brokaw called “the Greatest Generation.”

Today, 35 million American families claim a parent, grandparent, or close family member among those who defeated Nazism, Imperialism, and Fascism to give us the world we enjoy today When the Marines raised the flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, Woody Williams was busy destroying seven Japanese pillboxes using only his flamethrower.

Mr. Williams’s contributions following his time in uniform were equal to his exploits in defeating the Japanese. The Woody Williams Foundation conceived, created, and placed 104 Gold Star Monuments in all 50 states to honor the families who lost a loved one in combat or military service.

Today, from small towns like Corsicana, Texas to cities like Portland, Oregon, these beautiful monuments are a reminder that Freedom is not free and has to be earned by each generation.

Our country has held many State Funerals for Generals, but never one for an enlisted man. No enlisted man has ever lain in State / Honor under the dome of our nation’s capital in Washington, DC. This was the cornerstone of our effort at State Funeral for World War II Veterans.

This oversight will be corrected on July 14, 2022, when Woody Williams’s coffin is brought into the capitol rotunda.

The idea for a State Funeral for the last Medal of Honor hero from World War II initially came from a Texas junior high student, Rabel McNutt. Her Godfather, Walter ‘Walt’ Ehlers, was a holder of the Medal of Honor for his actions in Normandy in June 1944.

To prepare for attending his funeral in 2014, the father and daughter team watched State Funerals on YouTube. The then 7-year old Rabel said: “Daddy, let’s get them to do a big funeral in Washington DC for Uncle (Walter) Ehlers’ friends.”

Quickly the idea became a national cause with volunteer efforts conducted in all 50 states. The results were 16 State Legislatures that passed resolutions, 15 Congressional Delegations that wrote letters of support, 11 state Governors who wrote to the White House, the American Legion which unanimously supported us at their 100th convention, and the backing from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps League, and so many other patriotic groups that contacted their Washington representatives and their state governors.

Only about 300,000 of the 16 million men and women who wore our nation’s uniform at this time in history are still with us. Soon there will be no one living to tell us what it was like to have fought on Omaha Beach, the sands of Iwo Jima, or survived the Bataan Death March. Our nation will be poorer for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2022, as Woody Williams’s coffin is carried on a horse-drawn caisson from our Nation’s Capital to the World War II Memorial, we call on Americans to come together for a collective moment to honor both the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II and those from the Greatest Generation. It is in many ways, our final chance to do so.

Rabel Josephine McNutt, 14, and Lee William “Bill” McNutt are the Co-Founders of State Funeral for World War II Veterans. They are father and daughter and live in Dallas. For more information, visit www.worldwar2salute.org. or call 214-384 4946.

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