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First Name: Jeff

Last Name: Woodson

Birthplace: Hamilton County, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Los Angeles, CA
Middle Name: Davis

Date of Birth: 10 June 1908

Date of Death: 05 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Years Served: 1926-1943

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Jeff Davis Woodson

Lieutenant (jg), U. S. Navy

Navy Cross & Purple Heart

In an application for government life insurance dated 16 May 1940, Woodson lists his nativity as Hico, TX. His original application for enlistment dated 22 Jun 1926 states he was born in Autman, TX. On the consent declaration it states he was born in "Autman or Hico, TX."

Jeff Davis Woodson was the eldest child of William Edward Woodson and Edith Beatrice Hooks who married on 14 Aug 1907 in Anderson county, TX. His siblings were Ross Allen, William Edward Jr., Beatrice and Myra Mae Woodson. Jeff finished his 3rd yr in High School. He married Opal Joyce Marie (Gilliam) Taylor on 17 Sep 1932 in Yuma, AZ. It is believed that they did not have any children. After Jeff's death at Midway, it is believed that Opal did not remarry. She died in 1969.

With his parent's permission, Jeff D. Woodson enlisted as a Apprentice Seaman (A.S.) in the United States Navy (NSN:346-34-81) shortly after his 18th birthday on 23 June 1926 at Little Rock, Arkansas for a term of four years. He reported to recruit training at the Naval Training Station (NTS), San Diego, CA on 27 Jun 1926. After he completed basic training, Woodson changed rate from AS to Fireman Third Class (F3c) on 23 Oct 1926. On the same day, he was assigned to duty on board the aircraft tender USS Aroostook (CM-3). Then on 1 January 1928 he advanced in rate to Fireman Second Class (F2c). On 05 Aug 1928, he transferred to an Aroostook attached aviation squadron, VJ-1B, for duty and began training as an Aviation Machinist's Mate. He was advanced in rate to Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class (AMM3) in San Diego on 16 Apr 1929 on board Aroostook. That's a jump of two ranks. Woodson had requested flight training at NAS, Pensacola, FL on 22 Mar 1929. His request was approved. He was detached from Aroostook on 28 Jun 1929, and transferred to NAS San Diego for elimination flight training on 01 July 1929. Woodson successfully completed elimination flight training at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California on 25 July 1929.

He was detached from NAS San Diego on 25 Sep 1929 and transferred for a course of instruction at the Aviation Pilot School, Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Florida to report no later than 30 Sep 1929. He traveled with five other aviation pilot selectees cross-country via train with Pullman accommodations and cash for meals. He was designated a Student Naval Aviator on 24 Oct 1929 and began his aviation training. He completed aviation pilot training on 28 April 1930 and was designated a Naval Aviation Pilot (NAP) on 01 May 1930. He was advanced to the rating of Aviation Pilot First Class (AP1) on 19 Jun 1930. On 22 Jun 1930 Woodson's first enlistment expired and he was honorably discharged. The following day, Woodson extended his enlistment for three years. After completing his pilot training, Woodson was detached from NAS Pensacola and transferred to the Heavier-Than-Air Aircraft Tender USS Wright (AV-1) for duty. While on board Wright, Woodson was attached to Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11-F).

During the 1930s he served in various patrol and scouting squadrons. On 01 Oct 1932, Woodson was detached from Scouting Squadron Three and transferred to Scouting Squadron 10 attached to the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29). On 27 April 1933 he reenlisted in San Pedro, CA on board the Chicago for four years with the rate AP1c. On 26 Apr 1933, he received the Good Conduct Medal. He changed his rating to Aviation Machinists Mate, First Class (AMM1c) on 26 Jun 1933 with a designation as NAP. The Chicago operated in the Pacific between 1932-1934. In 1934, the annual fleet exercises were held in the Caribbean followed by a Fleet Review in NY harbor. In Aug 1934, Chicago changed her homeport from New York to San Pedro. Mrs Woodson drove their vehicle from Norfolk, VA to San Pedro, CA, 16 Oct - 21 Nov 1934.

On 10 Nov 1934, AMM1 (NAP) Woodson was detached from the VP-10 (USS Chicago) and transferred to the Naval Air Station, San Diego for duty in a flight status. Woodson applied for 30 days annual leave on 02 Aug 1935 to visit his mother in Ola, AR. On 01 July 1936, AMM1 (NAP) Woodson applied for 30 days leave from the US Naval Air Station, San Diego. It was annual leave to visit home in Fort Smith, AR. On 30 Nov 1936, Woodson detached from NAS San Diego and transferred to Patrol Squadron Eleven-F (VP-11-F) for duty. His enlistment expired on 26 Apr 1937. Prior to his discharge he was presented with his Good Conduct Pin (second award). On 27 Apr 1937 he extended his enlistment for 3 years. On 16 May 1937, Woodson was advanced to the rating of Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate (ACMM) (AA). Woodson was detached from VP-Eleven-F (VP-11-F) which was attached to USS Langley (AV-3) on 13 May 1937 and transferred to VP Eight - F (VP-8-F). He received his second Good Conduct Medal on 29 Jun 1937 while attached to VP-8.

On 16 May 1938, he was issued permanent appointment (PA) as Aviation Chief Machinist's Mate. On 12 July 1938, he was detached from Patrol Squadron Eight (PATRON 8) to Patron Eighteen. By Jun 1939 he was serving with PATRON Thirteen. On 1 April 1940 Chief Woodson, who was detached from Patrol Squadron (PATRON) 13, transferred to the Receiving Ship (RS) in San Pedro, CA via the fleet oiler USS Cimarron (AO-177) on 22 Mar 1940 from Pearl Harbor. He arrived in San Pedro on 28 Mar 1940 and was granted a delay in reporting to the RS in San Diego until 0800, 01 April 1940. He was honorably discharged at the end of his enlistment on 09 April 1940. Just prior to his discharge, he was awarded his second Good Conduct Pin (third award). Woodson reenlisted again in San Diego for four years on 10 April 1940. The next day he was ordered to duty involving flying and was redesignated a Naval Aviation Pilot (NAP), in the rating of Aviation Chief Machinist Mate (PA).

On 13 May 1940 he was transferred to Utility Squadron One (UTRON One) assigned to the destroyer tender USS Rigel (AR-11). On 6 June 1940, Woodson and the rest of the squadron were transferred from NAS San Diego to NAS Pearl Harbor via the USS Yorktown (CV-5). Woodson was recommended for appointment to warrant rank of machinist by UTRON One. On 27 Nov 1940, the Bureau of Navigation directed Woodson to report to the President of a Local Board on 14 Jan 1941 for a professional examination for appointment to the warrant rank of Machinist. There is no annotation in his record that he was advanced to Warrant rank. On Christmas Eve 1940, Chief Woodson was detached from UTRON ONE and transferred to NAS Pensacola, FL for duty via destroyer USS Benham (DD-397) to report NLT 09 Jan 1941.

On 19 Aug 1941, he detached from NAS Pensacola and was transferred to NAS Norfolk on 29 Aug 1941 for temporary duty and further assignment to Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8). On 2 September 1941, he joined Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) attached to the soon to be commissioned aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV-8) for duty. After her commissioning on 20 Oct 1941, Hornet and her air wing engaged in extensive training for the next four months. In March 1942 Hornet steamed to the Pacific via the Panama Canal where she participated in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in April 1942 and other actions over the next several months including the Battle of Midway in Jun 1942. Chief Woodson was temporarily promoted to the rank of Ltjg on 21 Mar 1942.

In the early morning of 4 Jun 1942, the Hornet Air Group consisting of 59 aircraft took off from her flight deck to attack the Japanese Striking Force. Only Torpedo Squadron Eight's 15 Devastators found their targets. Attacking without protecting fighter cover VT-8 was overwhelmed by superior numbers of Japanese fighter aircraft, but they continued their attack profiles until one by one they were shot down. Ltjg Woodson and his gunner, ARM2 Otway David Creasy did not return. According to the Hornet's after action report they were listed as "missing in action." In that report Rear Admiral (Select) Mitscher, Hornet CO, nominated each member of Torpedo Eight who flew into battle on 4 Jun 1942 for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Their remains were unrecoverable. Reported missing in action on 04 Jun 1942, Woodson and Creasy were presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943.

Woodson was (posthumously) awarded the Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star, American Defense Service Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal. He was previously awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal with two bronze stars (Indicates three separate awards of the medal).


Navy Cross Citation:

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Jeff Davis Woodson, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT, embarked from the U.S.S. HORNET (CV-8), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Grimly aware of the hazardous consequences of flying without fighter protection, and with insufficient fuel to return to his carrier, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Woodson resolutely, and with no thought of his own life, delivered an effective torpedo attack against violent assaults of enemy Japanese aircraft fire. His courageous action, carried out with a gallant spirit of self-sacrifice and a conscientious devotion to the fulfillment of his mission, was a determining factor in the defeat of the enemy forces and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 317 (August 1943) and copy of exact citation from his service record in my possession.


Presidential Unit Citation:

For extremely heroic and courageous performance in combat during the Air Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942. Flying low without fighter support, Torpedo Squadron EIGHT began the perilous mission, Intercept and attack! First to sight the enemy, the squadron attacked with full striking power against crushing enemy opposition, scoring torpedo hits on Japanese forces. Realizing to a man that insufficient fuel would prevent a return to the carrier, the pilots held doggedly to the target, dropping torpedoes at point-blank range in the face of blasting antiaircraft fire that sent the planes one by one, hurtling aflame in the sea. The loss of 29 lives, typifying valor, loyalty, and determination, was the price paid for Torpedo Squadron EIGHTs vital contribution to the eventual success of our forces in this epic battle of the air.


The USS Woodson (DE-359) was a John C Butler-class destroyer escort named in honor of Lt Jeff Davis Woodson. She was launched on 29 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs Joyce M Woodson [his wife]; and commissioned on 24 Aug 1944. USS Woodson saw service in the Pacific during WWII and then post war in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. She was finally decommissioned on 11 Aug 1962 and struck from the naval register of ships on 01 July 1965. She was sold for scrapping to the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, Maryland, on 16 August 1966.


His family also received a commemoration in honor of Jeff from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Jeff Davis Woodson, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S. HORNET, 5 JUNE 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.
(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America


Task Force 16 Citation Recognizing its contribution to the Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Second World War, it is appropriate that we take time to reflect on the unique and daring accomplishments achieved early in the war by Task Force 16. Sailing westward under sealed orders in April 1942, only four months after the devastating raid on Pearl Harbor, Task Force 16, carrying sixteen Army B-25 bombers, proceeded into history. Facing adverse weather and under constant threat of discovery before bombers could be launched to strike the Japanese homeland, the crews of the ships and LTC Doolittle's bombers persevered. On 18 April 1942 at 14:45, perseverance produced success as radio broadcasts from Japan confirmed the success of the raids. These raids were an enormous boost to the morale of the American people in those early and dark days of the war and a harbinger of the future for the Japanese High Command that had so foolishly awakened "The Sleeping Giant." These exploits, which so inspired the service men and women and the nation live on today and are remembered when the necessity of success against all odds is required.

(Signed) John H.Dalton

Secretary of the Navy

15 May 1995


Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) note:

None of the Navy/Marine flight crews in the Battle of Midway were eligible for or were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST M-1650.1 of 16 Aug 2019, Appendix 2C.1.c (3) Amplifying Guidance). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded in connection with aerial flight, . . . “ The CR was established in 1969 and made retroactive to 07 Dec 1941. According to the Awards Manual, when deemed appropriate, the award for aerial combat was/is the Air Medal.

[Bio #13 composed by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]

Origin of Nickname/Handle:

Texas WWII Exceptional Gallantry

Honoree ID: 104810   Created by: MHOH




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