Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Date of birth: March 16, 1924
Dates of service: 1942 to 1946
Lives in: Texico
Theater and location of service: Saipan
Branch: Army Air Corps
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Military unit and specialty: 20th Air Force: 73rd wing, 500th bomb group
In his owns: A bombardier on a B-29 stationed out of Saipan, he still believes he served with the best crew in the world.
“We had the best pilot and co-pilot in all the world. Our pilot was 29 and we called him an old man — he was a born commander.”
Responsible for dropping the bombs during the missions, White instructed everyone on the crew how to operate the “two switches” that sent the munitions earth bound so that the missions would not be compromised.
White was involved in the bombing campaign of Tokyo, a precursor to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — “there wasn’t any targets left after we got through with them, the B-29 was a wonderful airplane.”
“It was an experience and we had a great crew. We knew what we were doing, knew what we had to do, and we did it.”
After the war, White returned to farming and started a family. He carried on a tradition of farming wheat, milo and raising cattle on the section of land gifted to him by his father-in-law knowing “I did the best job I could.”
Date of birth: April 5, 1916
Dates of service: 1941 to 1946
Lives in: Portales
Theater: South Pacific
Unit: 43rd Infantry
In his words: Wood, a company commander, remembers traversing countless islands in the South Pacific.
“I’m glad to have served my country. I’m not saying it was a real good experience … It was a big war and it was important, it wasn’t easy to do. We all had heartaches… I had two great friends who died, one died in the Philippines in the (Bataan) death march.”
Traveling through the dense jungles of Jolo, Sulu, an island in the extreme southern Philippines, Wood’s company was attacked and outnumbered. Wood coordinated his men during a heavy fire-fight that lasted well over an hour. With night falling, he snuck out under the cover of darkness to bring the wounded back in the face of intense gun fire, he said.
In the end, although they took massive casualties, Wood’s unit overcame the enemy and forced their withdrawal.
For his bravery, Wood was warded a Bronze Star.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: