previous post next post  

Eric Fisher Wood, someone I'd like you to meet.

Princess Crabby may have gotten the first pic, but I'm thinking the picture I got from frequent Castle commenter Fishmugger's recent trip to Europe is the better one thus far, as it comes with a story I'd never heard.  I'll let Fishmugger tell it.

Memorial to Captain Eric Wood, Able Battery, 589th Field Artillery Battalion, 106th Infantry Division, Ardennes, Belgium.

The trip was very enlightening, there is no way to remember everything. But here is one.

As the Germans crashed through an opening in the American lines left open by a Recon unit's hasty departure, many rear elements of the U.S. Army found themselves in close hand to hand combat. The fights were short and nasty.

A field artillery unit was caught up in one of these fights, and after the initial contact, the unit attempted to escape the onrushing German assault. Most were successful in evading to friendly lines but one Captain chose not to run.

Captain Eric Fisher Wood found out he was closer to the war then imagined when his jeep was blown out from under him. He was not hurt badly but the other occupants were killed. While his unit disengaged and fled to more secure areas Wood remained behind to harass the German advance. On a road linking two German thrusts, Wood set up a one man ambush. He had a 30 cal machine gun and would set up and attack German troops moving along this road. 

After initially contacting a couple of locals for food and water, Wood thought it prudent not to continue this practice for fear of reprisals. 
[Armorer's note, Fisher is reputed to have told Belgian villagers, when informed there were Germans everywhere in the woods between Meyerode and Saint Vith: "I'll either fight my way back to my outfit or I'll collect American stragglers and start a small war of my own." ]  For the next two weeks, the locals continued to hear gun fire at night attesting to his continued ambushes. Then nothing. After a few days some of the town folk went out looking and found Captain Eric Fisher Wood. He was surrounded by spent shells and nine German bodies. They buried the Captain and after the war erected a head stone. (see picture, magnify it, and you can read the whole thing.

Captain Eric Fisher Wood was a graduate of West Point where his body is now at rest. [While the memorial in the Belgian forest says Captain on it, Wood's gravestone and other official accounts record him as a First Lieutenant.  Eric Wood was a graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and Princeton University, and is buried in Henri-Chapelle American (ABMC) Cemetery.  H/t to VFMAC alums and others who pointed out the errors. -the Armorer] He was a Red Leg. The people of Belgium still honor him and maintain his original grave. You see it as I saw it last week. The flowers on the top step are from the 501 Belgium Army Re-enactors that visit many sites throughout Belgium to decorate American Graves and Monuments.   -Fishmugger

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam for 1st Lieutenant Eric Wood, US Army, warrior.
 

13 Comments

RIP Capt. Eric Fisher Wood  
Lord bless his soul

It was indeed the Great Generation...

 
Indeed, RIP Captain Wood.

For more info and photos:

http://www.freewebs.com/106thinfantry-part2/ericfwoodjr.htm
 
Yes, we are reputed to be the ugly Americans...but just so you all know...

Each and every grave of an American Serivceman in Holland is assigned to a Dutch family, they volunteer and there is a waiting list, to maintain and care for. On special occasions, flowers are placed and the children make reports at school as to who is buried and what happened. The grave sites are important and are willed father to son to continue the honor. They have been named in devorce settlements.

In all the small towns in Belgium and France, people continue to look after our dead. Not so ugly sometimes.
 
That's one hell of a story.  Thanks for sharing it with us.
 
A good story, and a great warrior.  Much appreciated.
 
There was a program a few years ago on one of the Discovery Channel types.
It was about the Battle of the Bulge.
In that program, German as well as American veterans that participated in that fight were interviewed.
One of the German veterans was Waffen SS. According to his words in the interview, he'd participated in combat on the initial invasion of Poland and then shuttled across Germany to participate in the blitzkrieg through France. He was also a veteran of the Eastern Front.

He stated that of all the enemy he faced, he hated fighting the Americans the most. With every other enemy, there would always be a rigidly enforced defensive plan setup by the enemy that could easily be picked apart. The MG support, mortals, etc would always be placed in a predictable format.

It was never so with Americans. He stated that American forces tended to set up their defenses with little to no predictability. He and his men would be advancing along what should have been an easy approach line, and suddenly they'd be taking fire from everywhere they least expected it to come from.

He also said that even though the initial thrust of the Bulge offensive gained overwhelming success and cause what appeared to be a full rout of the Americans, all along the German advance, individual American soldiers, and/or units as small as squads, would just suddenly decide to turn-to and fight to the death. He stated that he'd never witnessed anything like that before from any other of the enemy he'd faced.

That and one other thing caused this man, who was a Capt in command of a Waffen SS company to declare to his junior officers that the Americans would not be defeated. The other thing was the first forward position they overran. In the HQ area of that American battalion, he saw more vehicles and larger stockpiles of inventory and supplies than existed as available for the average German division. But mostly, it was the tenacity and unwillingness of the individual American soldier to submit to defeat and the individual initiative that could turn a lone soldier or a separated squad into yet another defensive position that had to be fought through all along the advance. And that such fights were usually surprisingly casualty intensive for his men.
 

Grimmy,

All true. There were countless little battles. Look up the Chateau at Cleraux where 102 hq clerks and typists and lead by a LT, held up a Panzer Grenadier Regiment long enough to give the 101st Airbourne time to get into position around Bastonge.

 
Something you all may enjoy, this French Lady and her sons tend some of our fallen at Normandy. (her "godsons") This was her response to my thanks.

 
thank you very much for your e-mail !
I'm so proud to take care to the grave of my 10 godsons.
It represents a lot to me , their pay a homage to them ,
because we should never forget sacrifice of all those young men to make us free.
I learn to my children how to respect people , the memory of the sacrifice of all those young soldiers who died to make them live in peace.you will find picture of my sons cyril 16 years old , marc 11years old , arnaud 8 years old who are standing behind 4 of my 10 godsons.

With all my affection,

Véronique

 
This man needs to be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, for his unfaling conduct in the face of overwhelming enemy strength.  If he has not had this awarded to him already. Give this man two of them, he has definitely earned it at least nine times, during his finest hour.
 
 I found this information about him if anyone did not read the follow up information. Eric Jr was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. He is also the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart Medal.  To me this Distinguished Service Cross is not a high enough Medal for this great person.  His actions were way beyond the call of duty for his country or any country.  He is greatly missed.
 
  I will try this again.      I found this information about him if anyone did not read the follow up information. Eric Jr was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. He is also the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart Medal.  To me this Distinguished Service Cross is not a high enough Medal for this great person.  His actions were way beyond the call of duty for his country or any country.  He is greatly missed.
 
Mitchell - sorry you were caught the Great Hall Echo.

One reason Captain Fisher may not have been awarded a Medal of Honor is because, IIRC, at least two witness statements are required (with the exception of the Unknown Soldier), and the only surviving witnesses might well have been German, and no one knows who they were.
 
I have just walked back indoors after spilling a libation for the good Captain. As a sensible, intelligent man, he was of course a Redleg, that being the most efficient way to kill one's country's enemies, yet nonetheless, being a citizen of the Republic, he understood that, hey, if you register to vote as a citizen, you ARE an infantryman, and may be required to act as one at any time. Do yer best, those who are called to do as he did. I hope I could do half as well He seems to have done right well.