Happy Thursday! The last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient died yesterday, at the age of 98. Woody Williams received the medal for his fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima, where an officer asked him to break through a line of pillboxes. “I’ll try,” Williams responded. And over the next four hours, he destroyed seven pillboxes with six different flamethrowers.
“It was just another day of battle, as far as I was concerned,” he later remembered. “I was just the guy who was trained to do the flamethrower.”
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NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the security alliance Wednesday at its Spain summit, the culmination of a swift change of heart for the two countries, which were content to remain outside the alliance until Russia invaded Ukraine. The move still needs final ratification from all 30 member countries, but Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has withdrawn his opposition. President Joe Biden also announced Wednesday that the U.S. will further boost its military presence in NATO allies, including sending two more destroyers to Spain and two more F-35 squadrons to the United Kingdom.
Ukrainian intelligence officials said Wednesday 144 Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russians have been released in a prisoner exchange—including 95 who defended Mariupol during Russia’s months-long siege of the city. This is the largest of more than a dozen prisoner swaps since the war began.