A veteran who received the nation's highest military honor visited Grove City last week to say it's time for the families of service members to be recognized.

A veteran who received the nation's highest military honor visited Grove City last week to say it's time for the families of service members to be recognized.

Cpl. Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, 91, a World War II Congressional Medal of Honor winner, visited the community Jan. 20, and spoke in City Council Chambers to a gathering of city staff and residents as well as local veterans.

"As an 18-year-old farm boy, I knew nothing about war," Williams said of when he joined the Marines. "I wasn't even allowed to own a BB gun, certainly not a shotgun. I did own a slingshot.

"A few times, I shot a bird off a limb. No reason, but I killed that bird, and I got a whipping because I violated the very thing I was told you do not do."

As a demolitions sergeant with a flamethrower unit, Williams served with the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division, at Iwo Jima.

On Feb. 23, 1945, covered by only four riflemen, Williams went forward and knocked out seven pillboxes over the course of four hours while under constant fire. He eliminated one pillbox by inserting his flamethrower into its air vent, and he took out a group of riflemen who charged him with bayonets.

"Don't ask me how I did it," he said. "I don't know, and I didn't get touched."

By the time Williams' company was rotated from the battle, only 17 out of 279 men had escaped injury or death.

"We knew we were going to be shot at," Williams said. "We were prepared for what was going to take place. ... I have very high regard for people who are willing if necessary to sacrifice their life for my freedom."

Williams said he also has high regard for those who have lost someone in the service.

"Those people are the families of loved ones who gave their lives in the Armed Forces," he said. "Those families have never been recognized."

In 2012, Williams established the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a charitable not-for-profit organization.

One of the goals of the organization is the dedication of Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments throughout the country, to honor the families of fallen members of the Armed Forces.

"My whole goal for whatever time I have left in this world is trying to recognize and give tribute to those who have sacrificed a loved one at any point in time at any relationship in the history of our country," Williams said. "It is the goal of our foundation to get something in every state."

That includes Grove City, where plans are underway for such a memorial.

"The monument we're working on right now will be dedicated to the whole family of those who are veterans," said Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage.

Stage said the monument is being planned for the Town Center and will developed concurrently with the redevelopment of the Downtown area.

Stage also presented Williams with a resolution declaring the day was being named in his honor. In addition, American Legion Paschall Post 164 presented Williams with a medal and commemorative coin.

Williams came to Grove City through the efforts of Sgt. Chris White and officer John Darnell of the Grove City Police Division, who met Williams through Veterans Airlift Command, an organization that flies wounded veterans across the country for free.