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Woody, William E. (137th TDTB)

William E. Woody

Biography:  William Elton Woody, “Bill”, was born on June 12, 1924, in Winterset, Iowa. He was the son of Elton Woody and Alice Koser and graduated from Winterset High School in 1942. Bill continued his education at the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University) in Ames, IA. He studied at the school from September 1942, until March of 1943, when he was drafted.

Service Time:  Bill entered the service on March 20, 1943, at Camp Dodge in Herrold, IA. He was then sent to Camp Hood, Texas, for his basic training as part of Company D of the 137th TDTB (Tank Destroyer Training Battalion). After approximately four months at the facility, he was chosen for the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) and was sent to the New Mexico School of Mines in Socorro, New Mexico, from August, 1943, until March, 1944.

From there it was on to Camp Barkeley, TX, where he was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 17th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 12th Armored Division (AD). The 12th AD moved to Camp Shanks, New York, arriving on September 8th and shipped out on the 20th. They arrived in England on October 2nd and after some brief preparations, they boarded transports and sailed to Le Havre, France, arriving there on November 9th.

Bill served as a scout in the unit’s Reconnaissance Platoon at the rank of Private. The 12th participated in battles with the 7th Army in the Alsace-Loraine area, including a very notable one in January 1945, in the town of Herrlisheim, France, which was just north of Strasbourg. After the battle, Bill was promoted to Private First Class. and the 12th AD was used to clear the Colmar Pocket south of Strasbourg. They were then transferred to Patton’s Third Army and participated in the “Race to the Rhine ” in March, 1945.

On April 3, 1945, Bill was captured by the enemy, just southwest of Wurzburg, Germany. He was sent to Stalag XIII-D in Nürnberg, Germany and remained there until the prisoners were marched out in columns, traveling west to another prison camp. During the march, Bill and five other men were able to escape and make it back to Allied lines. He was sent back to the U.S., arriving by the end of May, 1945. After a 60 day furlough, he was sent to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to wait for reassignment since he didn’t have enough points for discharge. He was then sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and later to Camp Stoneman, California where he was assigned to the Transportation Corps.

Bill was awarded the European-African-Middle East Medal with two campaign stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal and earned the EIB (Expert Infantryman Badge). He was discharged from the Army in February, 1946, at the rank of Corporal.

Bill left active service but joined the Army Reserves in the late 1940s. He was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and served in the Chemical Corps. In May, 1953, he was promoted to 1st Lt. and in 1955, he was Honorably Discharged as a Reserve Commissioned Officer. He found work with the Marquette Cement Company as their chief chemist. On April 7, 1951, he married the former Mary Alice Burgess, who was born in Armstrong, IA, and was the daughter of Edward Eugene Burgess and Lilly Jones. The new couple would live in a number of places but his last residence was in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The family grew to include three daughters, Mary Alice, born in 1954, Nancy in 1957, and Nina in 1962.

In his spare time, Bill enjoyed spending time with his family and fishing. He passed away on November 27, 1984, and was buried in the Resthaven Cemetery in West Des Moines, IA. I want to thank Bill’s daughter, Nina, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.