Carson man wins Purple Heart 56 years late
Maj. Edmund C. Wooding took a piece of flak when his B-24 Liberator was shot down over Toulon, France, on July 5, 1944, during World War II.
The bombadier was one of 10 men on board the Free Delivery when she was hit by German anti-aircraft fire. Three men died, six were captured and one escaped.
On Wednesday, 56 years later, Sen. Richard Bryan presented Wooding’s Purple Heart to his son Mike. Wooding died in April, but not before learning he would receive his medal.
“He always described it by saying he was an ‘official guest of the German government,'” Mike Wooding said of his father, who was a prisoner of war.
It was the fact that his wound was treated by German doctors that contributed to the delay in Maj. Wooding’s medal. Because he was treated by the enemy, the documentation that would normally accompany a wound didn’t exist.
Maj. Wooding was held prisoner in Northern Germany and liberated by Russian forces at the end of the war.
“The reason the medal was so late in coming is that he was treated by German medical officers,” Mike Wooding said Wednesday. “He put in for it a long time ago and the paperwork got lost on someone’s desk.”
Enter Carson City resident Joe Lopez.
Lopez and Maj. Wooding lived on the same street and Lopez worked with Wooding’s son Craig at Nevada Bell.
“We had coffee every morning,” Lopez said. “We were very good friends and lived down the street from each other.”
During one of their talks, Wooding told Lopez about being wounded in the line of duty.
“He mentioned that he was shot down and wounded and I wanted to pursue it,” Lopez said. “He was a very shy man.”
Lopez contacted Jude Greytak in Sen. Richard Bryan’s office.
“She got all the paperwork done,” Lopez said. “I think (Wooding) really deserved it. It is coming 56 years too late.”
Wooding came to Carson City in 1971, then moved to Winnemucca before returning to Carson. He died in Calgary, Canada.
Wednesday’s presentation was not Mike Wooding’s first experience with a Purple Heart. The San Jose resident has one he won in Vietnam when he stepped on a pungi stick during a firefight.
Bryan’s rural representative Tom Baker said the senator’s office has been working on the award since November 1999.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to make a formal presentation before the major passed away,” Baker said.
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