OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - Days after his passing, a push is now underway to honor a Camp Pendleton-trained Marine veteran, who was the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.
ABC 10News was there in 2017 when was an emotional Hershel 'Woody' Williams attended a San Diego ceremony to christen a the ship named after him.
On Wednesday, Williams, the last surviving World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, passed away in West Virginia at the age of 98.
“He was symbol of a generation that is passing the torch,” said John Raughter, spokesperson for the American Legion.
Williams joined the Marines in 1943. He trained at Camp Pendleton, before being sent to Guadalcanal.
In February 1945, he and his unit landed at Iwo Jima. Days later, he went ahead of his unit and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions.
“He went through four hours of hell, and basically showed extraordinary courage. Went bravely by himself with a flamethrower and took out an enemy encampment. He saved countless lives on that day,” said Raughter.
Later that year, Williams received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman at the White House.
In the decades that followed, he became an advocate for veterans. He founded a nonprofit that helped create Gold Star memorials .
“He brought these memorials, over 100 of them, to states across the country,” said Raughter.
The American Legion is now petitioning the White House and members of Congress to have Williams lie in state in the Capitol rotunda.
Back in 2018, the group passed a resolution, vowing to pursue a state funeral for the then-unknown, last remaining Medal of Honor recipient.
“Woody was the last one to want this to be about him. The state funeral we are calling for is symbolic of all the men and women who served in the war,” said Raughter.
State funerals are usually reserved for presidents and other prominent public servants, but Congress on several occasions, has honored 'unknown soldiers' from past wars.
"By honoring Woody, this is a way to send a message to future generations about what the greatest generation done, basically saved our way of life,” said Raughter.
Raughter says the American Legion is optimistic their wish will be granted.
ABC 10news reached out to the White House for a comment and are waiting to hear back.