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|Jeff Davis Woodson was born in Autman, Tex., on 10 June 1908 and enlisted in the United States Navy on 23 June 1926 at Little Rock, Ark. Earning his first rating as a fireman third class, he served in Aroostook (CM 3). During the summer of 1929, he transferred to an aviation squadron, VJ-1B, and began training as an aviation machinist's mate. In April 1929, he took a reduction in rank to enter the aviation field and became an aviation machinist's mate third class. However, after training at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, and pilot training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, he was advanced to the rating of aviation pilot first class. During the 1930's he served in various patrol and scouting squadrons and even served a tour of duty in Lexington (CV 2). By spring of 1937, Woodson had advanced to the rating of chief aviation machinist's mate. During 1940 and 1941, he served successively in VU-1, USS Benham (DD 397), and at the naval air stations located at Norfolk and Pensacola. On 2 September 1941, he joined Torpedo Squadron 8 attached to Hornet (CV 8). On 4 March 1942, Hornet headed for San Diego, Calif., where she arrived on the 20th. With his TBD stored below decks Chief Woodson departed the west coast on 2 April with her deck loaded with 16 Army B-25 bombers, the celebrated Halsey-Doolittle Tokyo raiders. Five days later, Woodson was temporarily promoted to the rank of lieutenant (junior grade). Six days after that, Hornet launched her extra flock for their raid against Tokyo and headed for Oahu.
On 30 April, Hornet departed Pearl Harbor in to join Yorktown (CV 5) and Lexington in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The naval air battle which stopped Japan's southward advance, however, ended before Hornet could arrive. She turned around and reentered Pearl Harbor on 26 May, but two days later, returned to sea with Enterprise as the first contingent sent to stop Japan's attempt to capture Midway Island. Soon joined by Yorktown, the force lay in wait for an immense Japanese invasion fleet built around four of the six aircraft carriers that had struck Pearl Harbor the previous December. Patrol planes from Midway finally sighted the Japanese early on 4 June. The decision was finally made to launch strikes against the enemy despite the rather hazy information regarding his position. Many aircraft missed the rendezvous with their fighter cover. Pressing on in spite of the lack of escorts, Torpedo Squadron 8 made first contact with the enemy. Woodson and his comrades gallantly pressed home their attacks. All Japanese fighters swooped in on the almost-defenseless torpedo bombers and literally massacred them. Lt.(jg.) Woodson was killed in a valiant effort to sink one of the perpetrators of the Pearl Harbor attack. His sacrifice, though, was not in vain. Since all their fighter cover was down near the surface shooting up Woodson and his colleagues, the enemy carriers were sitting ducks when the American dive-bombers and fighters finally made contact. Three enemy carriers, Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu, rapidly sustained mortal injury and Hiryu received only brief respite due to her location far ahead of the other three. In due time, she, too, took fatal hits; and, with all four of their carriers gone, the Japanese were forced to retire and give up any idea of an assault on Midway. For his "extraordinary heroism and distinguished service beyond the call of duty . . ." and in recognition of the fact that his sacrifice ". . . was a determining factor in the defeat of the enemy forces . . .," Lt. (jg.) Woodson was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
USS Woodson (DE 359) (1944-1962) was the first ship to be named in his honor.
(Top Photo: Courtesy of Mark Horan, USS Woodson) (Bottom photo: U.S. Navy photo #NH 93595 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
(Note: This photo of Torpedo Squadron Eight pilots was taken in May 1942. The only pilot to survive the Battle of Midway in June of 1942 was Ens. George H. Gay, Jr.)
|86k||A 'John C. Butler' type ship, Woodson, after the war. This was the final wartime version of the DE, and very large numbers of this type were cancelled, as were many of the RN's 'Loch' class frigates. This photo shows the three twin Bofors aft, and postwar radar aerial on the masthead. [U.S. Navy photo, from the book "Allied Escort Ships of World War II (A Complete Survey)", by Peter Elliott]||Edib Krlicbegovic,
Bosnia - Hercegovina
|48k||Woodson underway, early 1950's (Photos Courtesy of R.H. Wright)||Dale M. Wright|
|103k||taken from USS Roberts, early '60's||Jay Jones EM3
USS Roberts (DE 749)
|183k||date / location unknown||David Buell|
|471k||date / location unknown: An Our Navy photo of USS Woodson that belonged to Thomas' Grandfather, Commander John R. Riediger, USN (ret.). On the back was hand written, "My first command, USS Woodson DE-359, CO May 57-Jun 59, Home Ports Newpt, RI, Key West, Fla., New Orleans, La."||Thomas A. Bell|
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