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Tell Them of Us Iwo Jima veterans, others gather for annual reunion (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

A U.S. invasion force led by the Marine Corps launched an assault on Japanese-held Iwo Jima on Feb. 18, 1945, with the goal of capturing three airfields on the tiny Pacific island. The battle raged for five weeks, claiming the lives of almost 20,000 Japanese soldiers and almost 7,000 U.S. military. It was the first battle between the nations in which U.S. total casualties outweighed that of the Japanese. The Medal of Honor was awarded to 27 Marines and Sailors, including Hershel "Woody" Williams.

Hershel "Woody" Williams, right, a retired Marine warrant officer and the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima, has a laugh with another World War II veteran during the annual Iwo Jima Survivors' Reunion in Wichita Falls, Texas, Feb. 16, 2018.
The annual reunion in Wichita Falls, Texas, Feb. 16-17, 2018 provided an opportunity for those in attendance to remember those who came before as well as a moment to meet those who are serving now. The event was full of the traditional pomp and circumstance as well as a moment of reflection for some.

Following comments from Williams, 82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Ronald E. Jolly Sr., and Col. Timothy Parker, Marine detachment commander at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, at the reunion at the Wellington Banquet Center in Wichita Falls, Texas, veterans and their families received a patriotic greeting at Sheppard Elementary School on Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

While the day ended with a short windshield tour of Sheppard Air Force Base for many of the veterans and family, it was the beginning of the journey for some Airmen, Soldiers and Marines at Sheppard. Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams spent some time sharing his harrowing story and what giving career advice during a trip to the 364th Training Squadron.

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams, center, talks to a combined force at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, about his career in the military including his time as a flamethrower operator during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The day of remembrance and celebration subsided Friday, but it wasn't the end of the two-day recognition event. Williams, Iwo Jima veterans, family and others gathered Feb. 17, 2018, at the Wellington Banquet Center for a final day of events, which included a fiery display of Williams' inflammatory job requirements during World War II and a ceremonial representation of an iconic scene on Mount Suribachi in March 1945.

Hershel "Woody" Williams, red coat, blasts a fireball with the assistance of a World War II reenactor at the Wellington Banquet Center in Wichita Falls, Texas, Feb. 17, 2018. Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions durign the Battle of Iwo Jima, where he served as a flamethrower operator. He and others were honored during a two-day event at the Iwo Jima Survivors' Reunion.
Hershel "Woody" Williams, red coat, was awarded the Medal of Honor fo rhis service during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. The last living Medal of Honor representative from that battle said he wears the Medal to honor to two men who fought along side him for the sole puprose of protecting Williams.
A World War II veteran visits with reenactors from the same era Feb. 17, 2018, a the Wellington Banquet Center in Wichita Falls, Texas. The venue was the location of the 2018 Iwo Jima Survivors' Reunion.
Joe Rosenthal captured the iconic image of Marines raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Volunteers reenacted the raising of the flag Feb. 17, 2018, during the Iwo Jima Survivors' Reunion at the Wellington Banquet Center in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Hershel "Woody" Williams holds his Medal of Honor medallion Feb. 16, 2018, during a visit to Wichita Falls and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Only 27 Medals of Honor were awarded during the roughly five-week Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, where Williams served as a flamethrower operator. Wiliams is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from that battle.

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