Sunday’s Super Bowl game coin flip was administered by the only living Marine Medal of Honor recipient from WWII, Cpl. Hershel “Woody” Williams.
He was joined by fellow Medal of Honor recipients for the big moment to determine who would have the ball first in a moment that exuded American pride.
The New England Patriots won the toss, but deferred, so the Philadelphia Eagles will start with the ball.
Williams earned his Medal of Honor for his service in the Pacific front, in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Despite winning the military’s highest honor of valor, he remains humble.
“I was only doing what was expected of me,” he says of his service.
In an interview in 2015, he spoke of the Battle of Iwo Jima with Stars and Stripes.
Iwo Jima was a different kind of a combat. I’d been in a previous campaign, when we took Guam back, and Guam was still mostly jungle … But Iwo … none of us, of course, had ever heard of it; they didn’t tell us that’s where we were going until they got us aboard ship and they brought out this board with a diagram on it that showed what Iwo Jima would look like. Guam was 19 miles from one shore to the other. This one, 2½ miles. It looked awful small, compared to what we had just been through.
The landscape wasn’t the only difference. He details the bloody campaign in the interview, including just how afraid he was.
You go in automatic drive when something like that happens, I think. Much of that four hours, I don’t remember. I attribute that to fear. Because to say I wasn’t scared would be the biggest lie that’s ever been told. Because you do experience fear.