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MD WWII veteran to receive posthumous Medal of Honor

September 8th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

On Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representative David Trone, along with U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and U.S. Representative Anthony Brown (D-Md.) will host a virtual press conference with Mrs. Joann Woodson, the widow of Maryland WWII Veteran Corporal Waverly Woodson. During the press conference, the lawmakers will announce new bipartisan, bicameral legislation to award Cpl. Woodson the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during World War II, and specifically his courageous and selfless actions during the D-Day invasion. While Cpl. Woodson was previously awarded a Bronze Star, as a Black Veteran, he was not considered at the time for a Medal of Honor.

 

Since 2015, Senator Van Hollen has urged the Army to consider Cpl. Woodson for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor, including in a letter he led with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In response to the Army’s failure to act, Senator Van Hollen and Rep. Trone – who represent the district Cpl. Woodson resided in – along with Senator Toomey and Rep. Brown and over a dozen of their colleagues are introducing legislation to award Cpl. Woodson this honor. In addition to the lawmakers and Mrs. Woodson, historian Linda Hervieux, who has extensively researched Cpl. Woodson’s actions, will join.

 

WHO:            U.S. Senator Van Hollen (D-Md.)

U.S. Representative David Trone (D-Md.)

Joann Woodson, widow of Cpl. Waverly Woodson and Maryland Resident

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

U.S. Representative Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Vice Chair of House Armed Services Committee

Linda Hervieux, Historian and Researcher on Cpl. Woodson

 

WHAT:          Zoom Press Conference Announcing New Legislation to Award Cpl. Waverly Woodson the Medal of Honor

 

WHEN:          Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm

 

WHERE:       RSVP to Francesca_Amodeo@VanHollen.Senate.Gov for Zoom Link

 

Background:

 

Since 2015, Senator Van Hollen has been working on the posthumous Medal of Honor upgrade for Corporal Waverly B. Woodson, Jr. (1922-2005), a Black Army medic assigned to the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion during World War II. 

 

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, Cpl. Woodson landed on Omaha Beach. Despite having been struck by shrapnel while aboard his Landing Craft Tank and being wounded in his groin and back, Cpl. Woodson spent 30 grueling hours saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. As a result of his heroic actions on D-Day, Woodson was recommended for the Medal of Honor but never received it. No Black Americans who served during World War II received the Medal of Honor. It was not until 1997 that seven Black service-members were awarded the Medal of Honor retroactively by President Clinton. Cpl. Woodson made the short list for this but was not selected due to a lack of documentation.

 

Although contemporaneous news reports and other documents reflect not only Cpl. Woodson’s heroism but an intent by his commander to recommend him for the Medal, this case lacks the documentation typically required for retroactive medal upgrade requests. For reasons beyond Cpl. Woodson’s control, the documentation available has been determined by the Army to be insufficient to satisfy the standard used in other cases of retroactive medal upgrades. Historian-journalist, Linda Hervieux, has spent more than three years reviewing archives for supporting documentation, searching several times at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, and the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. She worked with Army staff historians as well as enlisted a search for records trail by the Awards and Decorations Branch of the Army.

 

Cpl. Woodson was a hero who saved dozens, if not hundreds, of troops on Omaha Beach. His wife, Joann Woodson, is 91 years old and resides in Clarksburg, Md. and is very involved in ensuring that her late husband gets the recognition he deserves. If awarded the Medal of Honor, she intends to donate it to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.



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