David Woodland

  • Birth Date: 1925
  • Place of Birth: Atlantic City
  • State of Residence: Arizona
  • Years of Service: 1942-1945
  • Branch of Military: Navy
  • Rank: Torpedoman 2nd Class
  • Wars Involved In: WWII
  • Theater(s) of Operation: Pacific Theater

David Woodland was born in 1925 in Atlantic City. He had a good education, and had planned to complete High School and go on to college. During his senior year, war broke out; he knew that he was going to be drafted, so he decided to sign up. He joined the Navy because he had lived near the water all of his life, and it was a natural fit. He had his diploma shipped to him in boot camp. He finished boot camp during the summer of 1943. He was given a choice of specialty, and he chose to be a torpedo man. Luckily for him he says, he was not chosen to be in a submarine or on a PT boat, because of his glasses. He was put on a destroyer escort. These are boats that were smaller and lighter than a full size destroyer. The boat was first in Huston and then went to Bermuda for a 2-3 week shakedown. The boat then went to Norfolk Virginia, then to Pearl Harbor, and finally to the Philippines. In the beginning his boat was put on escort duty, but because of the fact that so many of the destroyer escorts were being produced, his ship was sent to the front lines to fight. His ship was part of what was known as a hunter group. This was one mini carrier and 6 destroyer escorts. He was part of many historic battles and invasions including The Luzon Invasion, the battle of Lingayen, The Invasion of Formosa (now Taiwan), where his ship sank a large Japanese submarine called the I11. He was also part of the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After this, his ship was sent on patrol for a year. In 1945 his ship was put in the Japan invasion fleet, but the dropping of the atomic bomb made this massive fleet unnecessary. In July of 1945 his ship sank the largest submarine that the Japanese ever built, it was called the I31, it was a submarine that carried planes that could take off from the submarine.

On the ship, life was difficult most of the time was spent on maintenance and watch detail. Mr. Woodland was in charge of the depth charges. He had to scrape the rust off of the charges and recoat them. He also said that sleep was something that was hoard to get a lot of. The watch duty was on a rotational cycle, on the first night you were on watch from 8-12 at night. The next night, you had watch from 12-4, and on the third night you had watch from 4-8. Each morning reveille was at 6, so any time that you had a break, you went to sleep.

On one occasion, Mr. Woodland’s ship was put in charge of escorting a fleet and its accompanying oil tankers to Australia. On board was Admiral Halsey, who was on a mission to pick up General MacArthur. There was a typhoon that was coming, but the Admiral said that they would not stop. When a ship uses fuel it takes in water to remain afloat, but when it refuels, it dumps out its water to receive fuel. The storm hit while this was going on and 3 ships were capsized. Luckily Mr. Woodland’s ship was smaller, and therefore it was able to maneuver and avoid being capsized. The crew was told to go down to their bunks and stay there. Unfortunately, one of the depth charges had broken loose, and was rolling around. Because Mr. Woodland was in charge of the depth charges, he was told to go and fix the problem. He was about to go outside when someone pulled him back and tied a rope around him. When Mr. Woodland ran out of cover, that had been previously sheilding him from the winds, on the deck, the winds of the storm blew him over; the rope had saved his life. He woke up in his bunk the next day, and did not remember how he got there, or who the person was that tied the rope around him. 60 years later, while E-Mailing some people who had been on the ship with him, he found the person who had saved his life.

After the war was over the ship was sent to Korea. The Russians had looted Seoul, so the ship was sent to the North China sea. His ship was in charge of destroying mines that had been placed in the sea to sink the ship that an admiral was on. In Manchuria, the Russians had given the people guns, and they were shooting at Mr. Woodland’s ship. The same thing happened when they went up a river; they turned around, and went back. They ended up in Shanghai. They then went back to San Francisco. For the last six months on the ship, Mr. Woodland was a helmsman. They then went north, half of the crew left but since his last name was towards the end of the alphabet, he had to stay and do maintenance on the ship while it was in dry dock. He was finally sent home with a large group of See Bee’s (Naval construction). While on the train he volunteered to tend the coal stove so that he could have his own bunk. The train took him to New York, to a beach resort that had been turned into a discharge center. He was sitting in a ballroom waiting for his name to be called so that he could be discharged. His name was not called, so they put him in the brig until they could sort out what to do with him. After 8 days in the brig, he saw a friend from High School, he knew it was his friend because the man was black, and had red hair, which was very unusual. His friend got him out. He then went to Temple University on the GI Bill. Mr. Woodland now lives with his wife in Phoenix Arizona, and in the commander of Post 210 of the Jewish War Veterans.