Federal lawmakers request posthumous Medal of Honor for Overbrook High grad turned WW2 hero

Cherri Gregg
July 04, 2019 - 4:00 am
Dozens of black federal lawmakers are teaming up with members of the U.S. Senate to push for a posthumous Medal of Honor for a Overbrook High School graduate.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Dozens of black federal lawmakers are teaming up with members of the U.S. Senate to push for a posthumous Medal of Honor for a Overbrook High School graduate. The World War II veteran was one of the few black soldiers on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  

Waverly Woodson
Courtesy of the Woodson family

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus joined Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker in a letter to the acting secretary of the Army. It requests a recommendation to award the Medal of Honor posthumously to Cpl. Waverly Woodson Jr., or at the very least, a formal review of his file.

"Here we are getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July. It's important that we remember what he showed and demonstrated to all of us," said Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Pa), who signed onto the letter. 

"There's 55 of us; 51 of us signed that letter. I think it sends a very potent message," said Evans. 

Related: Forgotten warriors: Recognizing the black soldiers of D-Day

Evans first heard about Woodson when KYW Newsradio profiled the West Philadelphia native last month. 

Woodson was part of the all-black 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, serving as a medic on D-Day. 

Despite his own injuries, he saved dozens and possibly hundreds of lives on the beaches of Normandy.  

Woodson was nominated for a Medal of Honor during World War II, but no black soldiers got the honor at that time. 

Then in 1973, a fire destroyed records of Woodson's service. 

"If a person has earned the medal, he should get the medal," said Evans. "We should not let past discrimination prevent that from happening."

The letter cites a June 1944 memo, the only document remaining regarding Woodson's service. It states in part that Woodson's acts merited an award big enough that the president would give it personally.  

Click here to view the letter.