Legendary Marine Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, watched as his great-grandson, Cedar Ross, graduated from boot camp, CBS Evening News reported.
Ross was one of 350 men and woman completing 13 weeks of a grueling Marine boot camp at Paris Island, S.C.
Williams, 97, was in attendance for the graduation – the first since the pandemic where all family members were permitted to attend, CBS News said in a story posted Monday.
"The only advice I think I gave him was to do the very best that he could and then to do a little more," Williams said.
Williams joined the Marines in May 1943 and took part in the battle to retake Guam in the summer of 1944 before being sent to Iwo Jima, according to the Defense Department.
The biggest problem in Iwo Jima was the many steel-reinforced "pillbox" bunkers protecting the Japanese airfields.
"Bazookas and that sort of thing had no effect on them, because they were so thick and well built," Williams said in a 2017 interview, the Defense Department said. "The only way to actually eliminate the enemy inside those pillboxes was by flamethrower."
Williams was one of several demolition sergeants, but by Feb. 23, 1945, he was the only one left.
He volunteered to go forward as the last flamethrower in an attempt to put and end to the machine-gun fire coming from the pillboxes, the Defense Department aid.
In four hours, Williams was able to wipe out seven pillboxes.
And once he jumped onto one of the pillboxes and shoved the nozzle of his 70-pound flamethrower into an air vent pipe and fired, killing all those inside.
He said he will never forget what it means to be a Marine.
"They have said, 'By taking that oath that you can take my life, but you cannot take my country or my freedom,'" Williams said.
Meanwhile, Ross’ drill instructor only learned of the connection to a legend about halfway through bootcamp.
"The chief drill instructor told me, 'Ross, you're going to have big shoes to fill,'" Ross told CBS News. "I said, 'Yes, sir. Thankfully, I wear size 15.'"
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