The National Youth Science Foundation was saddened to learn of the passing of Hershel “Woody” Williams yesterday. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to know Woody and that he took time out of his busy schedule to speak to our 2021 National Youth Science Camp delegates last summer about how freedom demands service and sacrifice. His message was as inspiring as his example. Woody Williams truly embodied our mission to build communities by inspiring lifelong engagement and ethical leadership through mentoring, challenging, and motivating youth. 

Although he rose to prominence because of his heroism and valor at Iwo Jima, it was how he used his reputation that drew us to him. He lived a life of humble service, striving to serve, honor, and recognize his fellow veterans for their selfless service. Through his Woody Williams Foundation, he also worked tirelessly to honor and recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom by providing comfort, healing, recognition, and community for the Gold Star Families they left behind. He often noted that he wore and proudly displayed his Medal of Honor, not for himself, but for the two men who gave their lives protecting him on Iwo Jima that day in 1945.

Mr. Williams also felt a great responsibility to teach the rising generations and volunteered his time regularly to speak to youth about duty, respect, freedom, and service to others. The world was truly a better place because Hershel “Woody” Williams was in it. He lived a life of honor, quiet dignity, and selfless service. We strive to follow his example and hope to inspire the youth who participate in our programs to do the same.

Brian Kinghorn, Ph.D.


National Youth Science Camp

Ron Pearson


Board of Trustees