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A Hero's Honor: US Navy Christens Ship Named for West Virginia WWII Hero Woody Williams

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The USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams The USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams

SAN DIEGO, CA (WOWK) - Beautiful blue skies adorned the 784 foot long ship which was christened Saturday; the ship named for West Virginia native son and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams.

The USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams, built for the Navy by General Dynamics NASSCO, was officially recognized in the time-honored tradition with a ceremony attended by a who's who of the Navy, Marines and four fellow Medal of Honor recipients.

Williams, who now resides in Ona, West Virginia, opened his remarks with a humbling tone.

"I want you to imagine in your mind that you are the person standing where I am standing," said an emotional Williams. "It is very difficult to understand why things happen in our life as they do." This historic event was 20 years in the making. It's a moment that also almost didn't happen had it not been for the efforts of fellow Marine Ron Wroblewski.

Back in 1997 during a family vacation at Virginia Beach, Wroblewski toured Norfolk Naval base and ships named after Congressional Medal OF Honor recipients.

So he started thinking "We've got a Medal of honor recipient at home" who not ask Woody Williams if he wanted a ship named for him.

"'Course his first response was … I'm not dead yet," chuckled Wroblewski.

Thousands of petition signatures were gathered and the years went by, and it would take the help of former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to help Wroblewski push it through.

"Sometimes you have to be at the right time and know the right person and Ray (Mabus) took it upon himself to make it happen," said Manchin.

The USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams, built by General Dynamic NASSCO in San Diego, is 784 feet long and it's capable of conducting a wide range of military operations from humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, security and combat operations. The team at NASSCO said this was a very special time for them.

"They don't name many ships for a living person, but I think given the fact of who he is and what he has done is a testament to him and I think it's very special," said Dennis DuBard, General Dynamics NASSCO Spokesman.

Williams' daughters Travie and Tracie Ross conducted the champagne breaking ceremony for their father and were thrilled to be a part of this historic time.

"My dad has a life of service and for him to see this is just a blessing," said Tracie Ross. "My dad had a motto for the ship 'peace we seek, peace we keep' and so I am praying that is what the ship can do is keep the peace."

Guests from far and wide attended the ceremony including fellow Medal of Honor recipients and survivors of the USS Arizona.

Williams reflected on the future role his ship would make on the rest of the world. "When I went aboard the ship, walked up those ten stories, I saw how huge that thing was and the potential to protect our freedom and our country, reality then began to set in, and with that reality came emotions, said Williams."

The ship is the Navy's newest Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) USNS Hershel "Woody" Williams

After launch tests, the Navy is expected to receive the ship for service in February 2018.

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