By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV
Sailors and civilian mariners assigned to the Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) held a remembrance ceremony for the ships namesake, July 9, 2022.
The ceremony was held shortly after leaving a scheduled port visit in Victoria, Seychelles, and paid homage to the Medal of Honor recipient, retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, who passed away June 29, 2022.
“It was a very somber occasion where both the military and civilian crew members could come together to pay their respects and honor our ship’s namesake,” said Capt. Chad Graham, commanding officer of Hershel “Woody” Williams. “It is extremely humbling to be able to command a ship that bears the name of a great American hero, and we strive to emulate the amazing man he was, both in and out of uniform. He truly was the embodiment of our core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”
The ceremony included the reading of the late Williams’ biography, Medal of Honor citation from his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, a ceremonial wreath laying, as well as a three-round volley with seven shooters.
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first ship named after the Medal of Honor recipient, following his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the second World War and his decades of service to his community and his country left a lasting legacy that will surely carry on for years to come.
USS Hershel "Woody" Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility. The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa's prosperity and access to global markets.
The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that operates across a broad range of military operations. Acting as a mobile sea base, they are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support missions assigned.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.