On D-Day, Waverly Woodson Jr. saved the lives of 200 men on Normandy Beach after being injured, but the US Army has refused to honor him for 75 years.
Imagine fighting in the time when you had to not only resist the invaders, but also fight Jim Crow. There as a black medic Waverly Woodson Jr., who transcended all of those bounds - in the line of duty on the D-Day. While he ended up saving at least 200 lives that day, his widow is fighting for the honor her late husband deserves.
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the storming of the beaches at #Normandy. It is our duty & privilege to honor the lives sacrificed on that day.— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) June 6, 2019
There’s also a myth that no Black men participated on #DDay and that is not true.
A thread⬇️ #DDay75 pic.twitter.com/9KgCtbh9s8
According to CBS Philly, In honor of the 75th anniversary of World War II's D-Day, the Congressional Black Caucus has begun to push for Waverly Woodson Jr. to be recognized as such by the US Army as a war hero. Given the fact that people still believe in the myth that no black man fought on D-Day.
Meet 90-year old Joann Woodson. She's on a mission to share the truth about the participation of Black men on #DDay.— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) June 6, 2019
Her late husband, Waverly Woodson, was one of the few Black soldiers known to have served on Omaha Beach. #DDay75 https://t.co/PDWSWTCM2i
21-year-old Woodson was one of the first black soldiers to make it into Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Woodson was a medic from Philadelphia with the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only Black combat unit to participate in D-Day.
June 6, 1944, nearly 2000 black soldiers landed on Normandy’s beaches. Waverly Woodson was one of them. Wounded, he treated more than 200 fellow warriors & saved countless lives. Proud to share his story & @ChrisVanHollen efforts to get him a Medal of Honor on @CBSThisMorning pic.twitter.com/6xrWwRoVHQ— Vladimir Duthiers (@vladduthiersCBS) June 6, 2019
After being injured in the back and groin - while on the landing craft - but he was able to patch his wounds, and set up and medical tent and began treating the soldiers around him who were hit by barrages of German gunfire.
@NMAAHC , @UkeeWashington , How about Someone Missed a Very Important person Who Saved Lives Of all Races in #WWll his name is Waverly Bernard Woodson, Jr. (1922-2005) He did receive a Purple Heart But he died without being Fully Acknowledged , He’s from Philly pic.twitter.com/HILgRdWT2D— PrincessofNerveDjs (@thebibleprinces) January 29, 2019
He went on to spend 30 hours on the beach tending to other wounded men before eventually collapsing - after saving at least 200 injured, according to a letter from then-Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Waverly Woodson, a 21-year-old medic from Philadelphia, treated at least 200 injured men on #DDay, despite being injured himself. He was with the lone African-American combat unit to fight on D-Day. #DDay75 #DDay75thAnniversary pic.twitter.com/8clIzr4sZb— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) June 6, 2019
The Congressional Black Caucus says 21-year-old medic from Philadelphia who treated at least 200 injured men on D-Day, despite being injured himself.
Van Hollen, now a U.S. senator, is heading an effort to have Woodson posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day. But a lack of documentation, in part because of a 1973 fire that destroyed millions of military personnel files, has stymied the effort.
Today I met 90-year-old Joann Woodson the widow to Waverly Woodson JR a D-Day medic who saved thousands of soldiers lives. Joann has kept the original copy of her husbands “My Witness to D-Day,” and it brought me to tears reading his experience on that horrific day, 75 years ago. pic.twitter.com/zqOv2i4UQy— Ariana Freeman (@ArianaFreeman12) June 6, 2019
Although D-Day has been historically white-washed, there were an estimated one million Black soldiers who served in World War II, with some 2,000 Black soldiers serving at Normandy. The units were segregated, and Black soldiers have yet to be recognized for their contributions during the battle.
75 Years After D-Day, fighting to Recognize Black Troops. In particular Corporal Waverly “Woody” Woodson Jr. part of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only African-American combat unit in the D-Day landings. His widow still fights for his Medal https://t.co/P2CmSBywYj— Ellis Island Honors Society (@EIHonors) June 6, 2019
Thankfully, the US Army and Black newspapers at the time praised Woodson and lauded him for his service that day. However, he was never awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. military decoration, due to overt racism within the US Army's senior ranks.
He also saved four men from drowning, pulling them from the waves & administering CPR after their guide rope broke on the way ashore.— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) June 6, 2019
Woodson never received the #MedalofHonor, the highest U.S. military decoration given to those who display extraordinary valor in action. #DDay75 pic.twitter.com/Ekgn0p2WpZ
His widow, Joann Woodson, now 90, feels it’s essential that everyone knows the sacrifices her husband made when he bravely stepped foot on Omaha Beach 75 years ago.
The contributions of Black soldiers and the military’s failure to recognize them set the tone for a study launched by the Army in 1993. The study concluded that racial bias was the sole reason Black soldiers didn’t earn a Medal of Honor.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on Waverly Woodson Jr.: "It's pretty clear that, had he been a white soldier, he would have received the Medal of Honor, and the only thing that has stood in the way was the color of his skin." https://t.co/i8QKROmPMh pic.twitter.com/tDWeu0BFWV— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) June 7, 2019
Waverly Woodson, Jr. died in 2005 with just a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service. His widow, Joann, continues to fight for the Medal of Honor of her late husband’s bravery merited.