Woody Williams Foundation

Woody Williams Foundation

What is the Woody Williams Foundation? 

The Woody Williams Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams. In collaboration with the American public and community leaders, the foundation promotes establishing permanent Gold Star families memorials throughout the nation, sponsoring Gold Star families outreach across the country, and providing Living Legacy scholarships for Gold Star children.

The Woody Williams Foundation has the following objectives:

  • Promote, create and install Gold Star families memorials in communities across the country.
  • Organize Gold Star family outreach events for Gold Star families memorial monument locations throughout the footprint of the foundation.
  • Award scholarships to eligible Gold Star children based on its scholarship guidelines.
  • Provide Gold Star family members with educational benefits
  • Educate and raise awareness throughout the American public of the sacrifices made by Gold Star families for the freedoms we enjoy daily.

Foundation Initiatives

The foundation educates the public about the sacrifices of Gold Star Families and the sacrifices made by their loved ones. Among the foundation’s missions is to remind all community members that freedom cannot be taken for granted.

There are several initiatives of the Woody Williams Foundation. The following is a list of those initiatives.

Gold Star Family memorial monuments are made of black granite and feature two sides. This monument honors Gold Star families who sacrificed a loved one for freedom on one side.

The foundation sponsors and hosts programs and events that keep the local Gold Star family communities engaged.

The Gold Star Children Scholarship Program provides scholarships to underserved Gold Star children whose parents sacrificed their lives in the U.S. military. Surviving Gold Star children do not qualify for Fry Scholarships and DEAs (Dependents Educational Assistance). Each Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarship awards $5,000 in award amounts. The scholarship amount is based on the applicant’s financial needs.

Medal of Honor Wall of Memory

A member of the armed forces who demonstrates courage, bravery or self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty on the battlefield is awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration of the United States. Those awarded the Medal of Honor are part of an elite group devoted to promoting American values and heroes’ virtues, such as courage, sacrifice and patriotism, through education, example and increased awareness.

For the Marines who served with Williams during World War II who were unable to return home, Williams considers himself the medal’s caretaker. Dedicated to the cause of upholding the values symbolized by the Medal of Honor, Williams continues to focus on initiatives connected to the Medal of Honor in honor of those who gave their lives for freedom.

Williams had an idea several years ago to create a Memorial Wall of Memory that would honor the Medal of Honor recipients from the surrounding communities of areas where veterans medical centers and veterans nursing facilities are located to be the first of its kind in the United States. Dedicated Medal of Honor Walls of Memory will be erected across the country in every possible location by the Medal of Honor Foundation.

Gold Star Family Memorial Monuments

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments initiative offers Gold Star Families a place to gather and use as they see fit. Those who have lost a loved one deserve a place of honor and remembrance.

The following is intended to be achieved:

  • A space to honor loved ones and family members of Gold Star families can be provided.
  • Honor the ultimate sacrifice of Gold Star families while showing them how much their communities care for them and appreciate their sacrifices
  • Organize outreach events for Gold Star families in association with each monument site and assist in establishing and strengthening those communities
  • Instruct the public on the enduring sacrifices made by Gold Star Families as well as the ultimate sacrifice made by their loved ones

First, the foundation built a Gold Star Families memorial monument in Williams’ home state of West Virginia. With that done, Woody and those at the foundation realized they had a new mission: to establish memorials in every state and every territory of the country.

Gold Star Families Outreach Program

The Woody Williams Foundation’s Gold Star Families Outreach Program allows Gold Star families to connect with their local communities through a range of outreach activities.

Various activities take place, from 5K runs and walks, motorcycle runs between monuments, riverboat gatherings, and school speeches to Gold Star Families Day at the ballpark. The foundation structures each event, while local foundation committees organize volunteers and resources.

In collaboration with other nonprofits and service providers, the foundation has expanded its support for Gold Star families. Gold Star families will access a plethora of services and be guided to organizations to meet whatever needs they are facing.

WWF Education Outreach

With its education outreach programs, the Woody Williams Foundation advocates for educational benefits for all Gold Star families, with a primary focus on providing Living Legacy scholarships to eligible Gold Star children.

There are two main educational initiatives of the foundation:

1. Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarships

Under Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarship, there is funding available to Gold Star children whose parents sacrificed their lives while serving in the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Marine Corps, Army, Navy or Air Force.

2. Advocacy Initiatives

To meet the additional educational needs of Gold Star families, the foundation partners with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and private entities.

Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarships

The Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to Gold Star children whose parents sacrificed their lives in the military, whether they served in the National Guard, Air National Guard, or one of the five Reserve components (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard).

Gold Star children surviving in this group are not eligible for Fry Scholarships and DEAs (Dependents Educational Assistance). A maximum award amount of $5,000 is offered for the Gold Star Living Legacy Scholarships based on their needs.

Moreover, the foundation is in the process of establishing two annual Gold Star scholarships and creating a Gold Star family-friendly campus model, which would include counseling and occupational therapy services. These programs will be expanded to colleges and universities across the country by the foundation.

Education Advocacy Initiatives

As part of Gold Star education advocacy Initiatives, the foundation partners with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and private entities to help Gold Star families meet their educational needs.

Education Advocacy initiatives have the following goals:

  • Provide counseling services to educational institutions that do not currently provide them
  • Discounts are offered to those who have exhausted all government-sponsored benefits and seek other continuing education opportunities.
  • Provide benefits similar to state tuition waivers to non-state universities, colleges and trade schools
  • Offer educational benefits to Gold Star families in addition to those available to dependents.

Character Development Programs

Character Development is a program designed to incorporate best practices with lessons based on core values and national standards in various educational settings. In this program, students and Medal of Honor recipients interact through video teleconferencing in assemblies or classrooms. A member of the Medal of Honor team addresses the students and answers their questions.

According to the foundation, all incoming sophomores are required to take the Character Development Program. The best practices for using the curriculum have been developed as a training model for teaching it in the classroom. The online educational site now features the entire Medal of Honor curriculum, including over 100 Medal of Honor recipients’ videos.

Woody’s Bio

Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams was born in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, on October 2, 1923. In World War II, he served in the Marine Corps. Following his time in the Corps, he served as a veterans’ service representative with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Former President Harry S. Truman presented him with the Congressional Medal of Honor at the White House. Williams is the only living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.

Military Service & Awards

Williams completed his recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. As a result of changes to the height regulations in early 1943, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on May 26 in Charleston, West Virginia. Williams was only 5’6”. After completing his training, he was sent to Camp Elliott in San Diego, joining the tank training battalion on August 21, 1943.

As part of the 3rd Marine Division’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, he joined Guadalcanal in January of 1944. During the Battle of Guam, in July and August 1944, he was attached to the Headquarters Company and engaged against the Japanese. He rejoined Company C in October 1944.

The American Government presented two significant awards to Woody Williams. The first one was the Medal of Honor, while the second was the Purple Heart Military Award.

In his final campaign, Williams distinguished himself “above and beyond the call of duty” at the Battle of Iwo Jima. He received the Medal of Honor.

Years later, he signed up again. This time, Williams joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Eventually, he retired as a chief warrant officer 4.

Post-Military Service 

Woody retired from the Marines after 17 years of service. Following retirement from the military, Woody served as a veterans’ service representative for the VA for 33 years where he helped veterans and their families.

For nearly 10 years, he served as the commandant of the veterans’ nursing home in Barboursville, WV, helping veterans who were often in their last years of life. Woody still serves as a member of the Governor’s Military Advisory Board in West Virginia.

WWF Events Calendar

As part of its annual programs, the Woody Williams Foundation helps various veterans and their families. The foundation has developed a schedule of upcoming events geared toward Gold Star families.

Events organized by the Woody Williams Foundation each year include:

  1. Regional Events in the Central Region
  2. Events in the East Region
  3. Celebrations of Monuments
  4. Events in the West Region
  5. Events in the South Region
  6. Woody Holidays/Events

You can Click Here to know more about the events organized by the Woody Williams Foundation and for their upcoming events updates.

How Do I Contact the Woody Williams Foundation?

Here are the details you need to use to contact the Woody Williams Foundation. Alternatively, you can visit a local office of Woody Foundation in your area.

Woody Williams Foundation

Office: (888) 839.7190

Email: contact@WoodyWilliams.org

Mailing Address:

Woody Williams Foundation
12123 Shelbyville Road, Suite 100
Louisville, KY 40243

Quarterly Newsletter 

The quarterly Woody Foundation newsletter is available to subscribers who wish to receive updated information on Woody Foundation initiatives, upcoming scholarship programs and news updates.

Click Me to Subscribe

Donate to WWF

By making a tax-deductible contribution to Woody Williams Foundation, you help us achieve our goals and objectives.

You can donate through this link: https://woodywilliams.org/donation-opportunities.html

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