On August 6, U.S. Rep. John Joyce (PA-13) introduced legislation to award World War II soldier, Lt. Eric Fisher Wood Jr., the United States’ highest military honor.
“Lt. Eric Fisher Wood Jr. was an American hero, and it is my privilege to recognize his extraordinary service and sacrifice for our nation,” said Joyce in a press release. “His gallant actions undoubtably saved American lives and aided the war effort. On the Western Front, Lt. Wood gave his last full measure of devotion to defend our liberty and American values. … By awarding Lt. Wood the Medal of Honor, we can ensure that this outstanding Pennsylvanian is remembered and honored for years to come.”
Born in 1919, Wood grew up in Bedford, Pennsylvania and attended Valley Forge Military Academy before later earning a degree from Princeton. In 1943, Wood joined the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Artillery Reserve and was called to active duty shortly thereafter.
Amid the chaos of the Battle of the Bulge and just one day after the German counteroffensive began, Wood was listed as missing in action and presumed dead. However, Wood was still very much alive, and over the course of three weeks was credited with killing more than 200 Nazi soldiers before ultimately dying from his wounds around January 23, 1945.
Cut off and behind enemy lines, Wood managed to link up with a small band of Americans who had also been separated from their units. Isolated, the group began to harass German patrols, working to cut off their lines of communication and supplies.
Wood had “mounted his own personal guerrilla war over the course of several weeks against the Wehrmacht, frustrating and slowing the German advance, and helping prevent American forces from being overrun,” wrote Colonel Stuart Helgeson, United States Marine Corps Reserves (Ret.), and President of the Valley Forge Military Academy and College.
Fighting until the last, Wood’s body was later discovered by U.S. soldiers. He was surrounded by seven dead Germans, presumably all killed by Wood.
Although the exact date of Wood’s death is unclear—the Army officially lists it as December 17, 1944—Belgian witnesses later testified on Wood’s guerrilla-like exploits.
Wood was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, and the Purple Heart Medal. Rep. Joyce now seeks for President Donald Trump to award Wood with the nation’s top military honor.
For Wood’s two children, Pam Wood and Eric Fisher Wood III, who were both born after their father was killed in action, the recognition of their father brings some solace.
“The loss of a father, I never met, has been a constant in my life. The loss of a father to a war of great purpose and meaning gives me some sense of peace. Every time my father is honored, I feel a little closer to him,” Eric Fisher Wood III wrote in a letter to Rep. Joyce.
“During these moments, I remind myself that his life had true meaning,” Wood III continued. “He went above and beyond the call of duty at a difficult time in the history of our nation. He went to battle to help the vulnerable citizens of the world overcome atrocities that many will never even fathom of seeing or experiencing…There is no sacrifice that matters more than the sacrifice of one’s life.”