Super Bowl LII kicked off with a coin toss — naturally — but this year the NFL added a patriotic element.
This year, 16 Medal of Honor recipients stood on the field, shoulder-to-shoulder, as one of their own took care of business and officially flipped the traditional coin like the operator he is.
After the stadium announcer introduced Marine veteran Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, he gave the crowd a prideful and enthusiastic “thumbs-up.”
While wearing his Marine Corps League Garrison cover, Williams flipped that NFL coin like a seasoned champ; no surprise there — how the former WWII flamethrower earned his network TV spot is an incredible story of heroism and badassery.Civilian Conservation Corps, a public relief program operated by the U.S. Army. After the events at Pearl Harbor, Williams requested his release and quickly enlisted in the Marine Corps so he could get right into the fight.
His unique training earned him a role as a demolition operator — and he would certainly put his skills to good use. In 1945, he was sent to the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to lay siege against the enemy.
Williams served in a reserve unit and he was told he probably wouldn’t even be utilized in the fight, but things changed quickly under the brutal barrage of enemy fire.
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After numerous American casualties, Williams was thrust into battle and ordered to engage the Japanese’s well-fortified pill boxes with his deadly flamethrower.
Under the guidance of a Marine officer, he was given a few riflemen for protection as he dashed toward the Japanese stronghold to burn them out of their position.
Due to the enemies’ muzzle smoke, Williams managed to identify their well-concealed positions and light them up.
“It almost like a dream, like it’s really not real,” he recalled.
Williams climbed to the top of the pill box and stuck the barrel of his flamethrower into the small air vent and fired. During his time on the bloody island, Williams single-handedly knocked out seven different concealed enemy positions.
On Oct. 5, 1945, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Truman.
Check out Medal of Honor Book‘s video below to listen to Woody’s incredible story from the legend himself.(MedalOfHonorBook, YouTube)