WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On D-Day, a black Army medic saved hundreds of lives on Normandy’s Omaha Beach.
According to witnesses, a German shell blasted apart the boat Cpl. Waverly Woodson Jr. was on, badly wounding him. Despite his injuries and the battle raging around him, Woodson set up a medical aid station and for the next 30 hours removed bullets and cleaned soldiers’ wounds.
Woodson survived the war but passed away in 2005. Now, there’s an effort in Congress to posthumously award him the nation’s highest award for heroism.
“Dawn broke as our ships approached the battleships, and heavy cruisers were firing broadside at the coast of France,” Joann Woodson said, reading aloud her late husband’s account of June 6, 1944.
“He says many of them were frightened beyond speech,” she added.
Woodson never received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions, despite the recommendations of his commanding officers.
Then, in 1973, his military records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, says that shouldn’t matter.
“Given the contemporaneous records of his heroism that were talked about in multiple newspapers at the time, we believe he merits this important honor,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen and the Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy requesting a formal review to posthumously award the Medal of Honor.
“He earned this medal and this nation really needs to honor him in this way,” Van Hollen added.
Despite no movement yet on the medal, Van Hollen and Woodson’s widow hold onto hope that Woodson and other African Americans’ heroism during World War II will one day be properly recognized.