A medic who saved scores of service members on the beaches of France during the D-Day invasion will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Medic Badge, according to an Army statement.
Staff Sgt. Waverly Woodson, a Black medic, is credited with saving the lives of more than 200 troops on the beaches of France, all while suffering from his own severe injuries. Woodson’s wife and son will receive the medals on his behalf during an Oct. 11 ceremony at Woodson’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
Woodson, who passed away in 2005, was authorized to be awarded the Bronze Star in 1945, but was never formally presented the medal due to a subsequent deployment to Japan, according to the Army statement. He was approved for the Combat Medic Badge this August.
A bipartisan group of more than a dozen lawmakers, meanwhile, feel that Woodson is deserving of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, according to the statement.
The Army praised Woodson in a press release shortly after D-Day, highlighting how he worked for 30 straight hours to save U.S. and British troops. Segregation at the time, however, played a role in his award consideration.
An Army captain serving as the First Army’s historian recently unearthed a “trove of previously undiscovered evidence” that Woodson was actually nominated for the Medal of Honor during World War II. Racism, lost records and infighting between senior military leaders in Europe, however, thwarted those efforts, according to the statement.
A number of speakers will honor Woodson at the ceremony, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., retired Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty, retired Lt. Gen. Thomas James, and First Army’s Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Prosser.
Woodson’s story has been highlighted in the book “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War” by Linda Hervieux.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.
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