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First Team Honors 96-Year-Old WWII Veteran
by U.S. Army Sgt. Angel Turner - April 16, 2015

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FORT HOOD, Texas - “I joined the seventh day of the seventh month in the 7th Cav,” said Clinton Woodley.

It had been nearly seven decades since the 96-year-old, former sergeant wore a 1st Cavalry Division patch on his left shoulder sleeve.

On March 27, 2015 ... the former G Troop, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division trooper set foot on Cooper Field to receive something special — awards he earned, but never received during his time in service.

Sgt. Clinton Woodley, a 96-year-old WWII veteran laughs with Spc. Nathan Melton, a Soldier assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division before an awards ceremony for Woodley at Cooper Field, at Fort Hood, Texas, March 27, 2015. Melton, who knows Woodley from his hometown, said he heard about the ceremony and “had to be there.” Woodley served in the 1st Cav. Div. before WWII and in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Woodley was presented the Bronze Star Medal; the Philippine Liberation Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Medal with four bronze campaign service stars; and the World War II Victory Medal. (U.S Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner, 1st Cav. Div. PA)
Sgt. Clinton Woodley, a 96-year-old WWII veteran laughs with Spc. Nathan Melton, a Soldier assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division before an awards ceremony for Woodley at Cooper Field, at Fort Hood, Texas, March 27, 2015. Melton, who knows Woodley from his hometown, said he heard about the ceremony and “had to be there.” Woodley served in the 1st Cav. Div. before WWII and in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Woodley was presented the Bronze Star Medal; the Philippine Liberation Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Medal with four bronze campaign service stars; and the World War II Victory Medal. (U.S Army photo by Sgt. Angel Turner, 1st Cav. Div. PA)

“It is a distinct honor to have Sgt. Woodley, his daughter Ms. Shari Bankston and her family along with many friends and supporters with us today so we can present four awards that he earned more than 70 years ago, and are long overdue,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commanding general 1st Cavalry Division.

Woodley enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 31, 1940, and was initially stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, as a mounted cavalryman riding along the Texas-Mexico border.

A few years later, he continued to serve in the First Team as the division underwent a major change.

“Sgt. Woodley was there when the division turned in their horses to fight as dismounted cavalry during the Second World War, and he served with the distinction in the Pacific theater of operations from 1943-1945, participating in multiple campaigns to help end the war against Japan,” Bills said.

During the war, Woodley served as an infantryman in the campaigns to liberate the Bismarck Archipelago, Luzon, New Guinea, the Southern Philippines and the Admiralty Islands, before mustering out of the Army on Sept. 13, 1945.

At Friday's ceremony, Woodley was presented the Bronze Star Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Medal with four bronze campaign service stars and the World War II Victory Medal.

Woodley's daughter, Shari Bankston, said she found out her father may have been eligible to receive additional awards about a year ago. Pursing the possibility further, she found out she was right.

“We're very excited to be here,” Bankston said. “It's unbelievable what we're feeling. The pride and admiration that everyone has put forth is utterly amazing.”

Bankston, who stood beside her father as Bills pinned the awards, said she was very proud to be Woodley's daughter.

Even though it had been nearly 70 years since he took off the uniform, Woodley – who was visibly emotional prior to the start of the ceremony – lit up with excitement when he saw a familiar sight.

“I got that several years ago,” he said, pointing to the First Team patch on a Soldier's uniform.

Bankston said she will be placing the awards in a shadow box and
hanging them on the wall in their family's home, a place they deserve to be.

Meanwhile, the veteran trooper had a simple message for everyone involved in the big event.

“Thank you.”

By U.S. Army Sgt. Angel Turner, 1st Cav. Div. PA
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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