FRONT ROYAL, Va. (WDVM) — William Wood was wounded just over a month before World War Two ended in Europe. He was shot by a sniper when his unit, Company C, 318th Infantry Regiment of the 80th Infantry Division, entered Kassel, Germany.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 670,000 American soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen were wounded during World War Two. Technician Fifth Grade William Wood Senior who was born in Rileyville, Virginia was shot by a German sniper on April 3, 1945, in the closing days of the war in Europe.
“We went into Kassel late in the afternoon, about four or five o’clock. When we came under enemy fire, Charley Company’s Captain ordered my squad to determine where the fire was coming from and eliminate the threat,” Wood said as he sat in his easy chair at his home in Front Royal and recalled the event.
“The squad leader was killed and I was shot in the right leg,” said Wood, who believes he would have been killed if he had not hurdled a barbed-wire fence.
“Going airborne apparently threw the German sniper’s aim off, and he hit me in the knee instead of in the chest,” Wood said.
Wood says he was lucky the company medic was nearby and stayed with him until he was loaded onto a jeep after dark and taken to a field hospital.
From there, Wood was taken by ambulance with other wounded veterans to an airfield in France where they were loaded a C-54 four-engine transport and flown to England for treatment of his leg wound.
Wood spent a little over two months in traction before being shipped to South Carolina and sent to the Woodrow Wilson Hospital between Stanton and Waynesboro in Virginia. When he was able to walk without a cane, Wood went home to visit his parents and brother.
Just when it looked like he might complete his convalescence at Fort Story near Virginia Beach, Wood was sent to William Beaumont Hospital in El Paso, Texas.
Wood doesn’t remember much about his hospital stay, but he does remember going into Mexico and drinking some tequila.
“No more tequila for me,” laughed Wood, “Once was enough.”
Wood was a pretty good baseball player at Luray High School, but his war wound ended any hopes of playing baseball after the war. So he took up golf and hit the links for the next twenty years. He gave up the game at the age of 82 after shooting a 76 in a golf tournament.
In addition to his Purple Heart and steel rods that hold his leg together, William Wood Senior still has the dog tag that he was wearing the day he was shot by a sniper 77 years ago.
Wood receives 80% disability for his war wound but had to stay after the Veterans Administration before the VA agreed to increase his disability from 20 percent.