They haven't waited in Normandy, or in smalltown Virginia, or at First Army Headquarters in Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, to honor the D-Day heroism of then-Cpl. Waverly B. Woodson Jr., a combat medic with an all-Black unit who is under consideration for the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor.
The visitor center at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, overlooking the eastern end of Omaha Beach, now has an exhibit extolling his above-and-beyond service there with the segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
In Bedford, Virginia, the National D-Day Memorial, originally set up to honor the 19 “Bedford Boys” who fell on Omaha Beach on the first day of the invasion, has installed a commemorative brick in tribute to Woodson and a narrative plaque on the service of the 320th.
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For decades after the war, the general belief was that there were no Black units or soldiers who landed on D-Day, but the plaque notes that the 320th was “the only Black unit to land on D-Day and the only full barrage balloon unit to fight in the European theater.”
The plaque also recalls the praise for the 320th from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, who said the unit “carried out its mission with courage and…