MASON COUNTY, W.Va. — A couple years ago, legislation was started to honor the Wood Brothers by naming a bridge after them along the new Route 35.
The particular bridge will pass over County Route 29 and Little Sixteen mile Creek in Mason County.
The honored family consists of generations of military personnel — many with high regard.
The Wood Family began with William L. Wood, originally from Indiana. William enlisted during World War I in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to guard critical railroad structures along the Ohio River in Mason County. He met the woman who would become his wife — Olive V. Medors — during his time stationed here.
William and Olive had 11 children — 10 boys and one girl. The surviving Wood family said two of the boys passed away during childhood. Of the eight boys who reached adulthood, all of them went on to enlist and serve in the United States Military.
The youngest of the children, William “Bill” M. Wood, is the only surviving sibling. Bill and his wife, Barbara, had three children — Shawn, Chris and Amy.
Bill, Barbara and Amy recently reviewed the history of the family and the Wood Brothers.
The oldest, Charles C. Wood, was born Oct. 24, 1919 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1944 and served in World War II.
Lewis L. “Tudy” Wood, born March 11, 1921, joined the U.S. Navy in Jan, 1940. Tudy served six years and spent time in European and Pacific Theaters during Wold War II.
Elmer “Emo” Wood, born Oct. 21, 1922, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the European Theater during World War II.
Raymond L. Wood was born Feb. 8, 1924 and entered the U.S. Army in April 1941. Raymond was in the European, African and Middle Eastern Theaters in World War II.
Donald M. “Don” Wood, born May 14, 1926, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1943 and was assigned to the Navy Armed Guard, “which consisted of specialty units stationed on merchant ships to provide defensive firepower protecting the merchant ships in transit and this was considered one of the most hazardous assignments during World War II,” the legislation regarding the bridge’s naming, reads.
Robert L. “Bobby” Wood, born July 21, 1928, enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1948.
F. Paul Wood, born Nov. 21, 1929, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in September 1950. After discharge, he joined the Marine Reserves.
William M. “Bill” Wood, the only surviving sibling, was born Jan. 2, 1938 and joined the West Virginia Army National Guard while still in high school. He was later called for active duty and stationed in Kitzingen, Germany and later at Fort Polk, La., during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Bill retired from the military on Jan. 2, 1998 after 43 years.
His daughter, Amy, said that after retirement, he was called to work as a civilian at the armory in Point Pleasant after 9/11 and then to the armory in Eleanor.
“He still is military 100 percent,” his wife Barb said. “He thinks about that so much. He relives his memories. It meant everything. That was his life and he loved it.”
Amy said she remembered what it was like growing up with all the uncles.
“Just thinking back, they were all very close and they loved each other very much,” Amy said. “There was just a spirit of service among all of them. They served their country and even when they came back, many of them…did so much volunteer work.”
Amy said that Paul helped get Fort Randolph going. Paul, Bobby and Bill were involved in the river museum in Point Pleasant.
“From what I knew of them, they all loved their country,” Amy said. “They all loved Mason County and Point Pleasant.”
Amy said when she and her mother were looking through old paperwork, they found records of “extremely high praise and achievements that we had no idea of. Dad just tucked them in a filing cabinet. This is the kind of people they are.”
Among these high praises, Paul was “cited for his ‘honest and faithful service,’” according to the legislature.
Bobby was dispatched with the 82nd Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was awarded a Silver Star in 2002 “for several acts of gallantry,” the legislation reads.
“In February 1951, his artillery batter was attacked by numerically superior forces and was ordered to withdraw. His column came under heavy fire and, as they were moving out, he spotted a wounded member of his unit in a small ravine beside the road. In the face of heavy gunfire, he leapt form his armored vehicle to retrieve the wounded soldier.”
At first he was awarded the Bronze Star, but Sen. Robert C. Byrd petitioned on his behalf. Amy said he never pursued that recognition.
“Whenever anybody would call Bobby a ‘hero,’ he would say that ‘the heroes were the ones who didn’t come back,’” Amy said. “He was extremely humble about his service. He didn’t pursue that attention, the people who found out about it pursued the Silver Star.”
During World War II, Olive had five sons serving during that time — Charlie, Tudy, Emo, Raymond and Donald.
“During World War II, if there were soldiers traveling through, my grandmother would take them in,” Amy said. “They could stay at their house. The whole family — they were very dedicated to their country.
Bill even had a nephew named Jimmie L. Wood, whose father was Bill’s brother Tudy. Jimmie was raised as a brother to Bill and was around five years younger than he was. Jimmie also served in the military and was deployed overseas. He passed away last year.
The Wood Brothers also have some fun, non-military related stories from their past. In Don’s biography section of the legislation, it states that he enjoyed roller skating dance competitions in his youth with their sister, Sybil. According to the legislation, Don even skated once at an event at Madison Square Garden.
Amy and Barb said they have been told that a tentative dedication of the The Wood Brothers Veterans Memorial Bridge will take place in October of this year.
“(Bill’s) been very excited about it and it’s been a long time coming,” Barb said.
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