Army Medic Waverly Woodson – D-Day Hero.


Army Medic Waverly Woodson Jr hit Omaha Beach with the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion (VLA), 1st Army, on June 6, 1944. In spite of his own injuries, he set up an aid station for the 200 casualties he treated under constant enemy fire. Despite General John HC Lee calling for Woodson to receive the Medal of Honor, he never received it. For his service that day he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Now more are asking for the military to waive the rules and upgrade his medal so that he can be honored 77 years after his service on D-Day.

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June 6, 1944, Omaha Beach 9:00 a.m.

It was a nightmare. The dead floated in the water, while the wounded cried out for help. Woodson wanted to do just that, but megaphones blasted orders to ignore the wounded and get to shore.

They did so… on a landmine. So now their motor was down. A shell hit the right side, killing some men, including the gunner. Another shell took out a jeep and the four men inside.

Woodson crouched beside the medical jeep when another explosion hit, sending shrapnel into his buttocks and thigh.

The LCT’s ramp hit the beach. Its tank rolled off with the survivors running behind it for shelter. Despite his wounds, Woodson staggered after them as bullets whizzed by.

The other medics ran toward a rocky outcrop that provided shelter from bullets. Grabbing a tent from the water, Woodson dragged it to the shingle when another explosion made him turn. The tank was now on fire…

So despite enemy fire, Woodson dragged men out of the water, revived four half-drowned ones, took out bullets, closed wounds, and even amputated a foot. No one cared about the color of his skin, then.

At around 3 PM on June 7th, Woodson finally passed out – after working for about 30 straight hours and treating some 200 men.

War History online

For the next 30 hours, according to, he “occupied himself removing bullets, dispensing blood plasma, cleaning wounds, resetting broken bones, and at one point amputating a foot. He also saved four men from drowning, reportedly pulling them from the waves and administering CPR after their guide rope broke on the way ashore.”

Omaha Beach was one of the bloodiest battles of the D-Day landing. Waverly Woodson finally passed out from his wounds and was transferred to a hospital ship.

Gen. Thomas S. James Jr, Commanding General of First Army, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that he supports the MOH for Waverly Woodson. The main issue is that the records were destroyed in a 1973 fire. He was honored by the French for his Normandy heroism on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. Even American newspapers lauded his heroism.

Woodson was denied the nation’s highest award for valor — almost certainly because of the color of his skin. Of the more than 400 Medals of Honor awarded during World War II, none went to the more than 1 million Black troops who served, and history has largely forgotten the nearly 2,000 Black soldiers who were on the beach that day.

A bipartisan congressional bill has been introduced to posthumously award this brave soldier the medal. If it passes, he would join seven other Black WWII troops who were upgraded in 1997.

Gen Thomas S. James Jr. in the Washington Post

Waverly Woodson Jr. died in 2005, never having received an upgraded medal. Will that bill pass? Woodson had always wanted to attend Medical school, but none would take him because of his race. He was assigned to train medics in the Korean War, but as soon as the officers saw that he was black, they reassigned him to be in charge of the morgue. This oversight based on race should be corrected.


Featured photo: Screenshot of Waverly Woodson Jr

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