Willie is a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving during World War II. He is a member of the Montford Point Marines, the first all African American unit in the U.S. Marine Corps. In June 2012, the members of the Montford Point Marines were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. At 93 years old, Willie resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife of 71 years, Delores.
Willie was nominated by his granddaughter, Alisha Wooten.
“He has served his country and family proud. He is an exceptional leader and example. We are very proud of his accomplishments.”
Willie chose Any Soldier to receive this month’s donation. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.
Full Transcript of Video Interview is Below:
– Recognizing and honoring those who served, it’s among the most important things we do at NFM Lending. Hi, I’m Greg Sher from NFMTV. I’m honored to be at the doorstep of 93 year old Marine and World War Two veteran, Willie Woods, as he is about to receive our September NFM salute. Mr Woods.
– Yes, sir.
– Greg Sher from NFMTV. Thank you for allowing us to come into your home and thank you for your service. When you think back to your time in the Marines, what are some things that come to mind about the experience?
– I went in to serve and with high expectations of coming back. I went in as a boy but I came out as a young man, but I was a man, and I can thank the Marine Corps for putting that spirit in me. It’s a quiet spirit but it’s there.
– Montford Point Marines, what was the point of it?
– It’s just a small base set up in North Carolina. Purpose was to train the black Marines that were coming in to the Marine Corp, and that base was set up basically to keep the blacks separate. No matter what my rank was, you were still above me if you were white.
– You were the first ever group of African Americans in that position, what was it like?
– I remember the general who was in charge of the Pacific, he came to Montford Point and gave a speech, and saying just out point blank, you’re not fit, you know? It made me feel like I’m gonna disprove what he said. You set yourself above me but I’m gonna show you that I can walk right beside you.
– And you’ve done that now. All these years later, looking back, you see all the opportunity for African Americans in prominent positions, tell me how that makes you feel and knowing that you were a part of that, making that happen.
– I’m proud of it.
– So, one of the responsibilities you had was watching prisoners of war.
– Mm-hm. I had a detail of 17 men. Our responsibility was to go out each morning and check out prisoners from the stockade, 200-500 prisoners, and they were our responsibility until the end of the day.
– You’re a part of history now. A ship commissioned, you’ve got some of your belongings sitting in a shrine of sorts, can you talk a little bit about that?
– My cap, the one that I wore through bootcamp, I wore one of the original emblems, and that cover and emblem, and a money belt that I wore all through bootcamp is at the Quantico museum.
– This congressional medal of honor.
– Tell us what it means to you to have this.
– It represents the portion in my life that I gave to my country. They call this the Presidential Gold Medal of Honor, and to sit here and say I have a medal that was given to me by the President, that’s an honor.
– Delores, I’d like to talk to you, if I may.
– How proud are you of this man?
– Very proud.
– 71 years. That’s a long time.
– I mean, I’m looking at this man here in awe.
– Of what a hero he is, and you see many others who look at him the same way. What’s it like to be the spouse of someone like that.
– I admire him as a man and then as a husband, and he’s both.
– I can speak for a lot of people in saying that you are a hero and you are appreciated and you will never be forgotten.
– I hope so, all this paraphernalia around here now, I hope my grandchildren and great grandchildren will take care of it, you know. We say we are here to keep the legacy alive because there are two histories of the Marine Corps, and I would hope that both would be told. The pre-history before blacks were in Marine Corps and the progress that has been made since blacks were brought into the Marine Corps. And now, you can see behind me now some pictures of generals. That Colonel who inducted us said, we couldn’t make it. Those people are the living proof.