PHILIP E. WOOD, JR.
APRIL 1942 – JULY 1944
Philip Wood commanded Able Company’s weapons platoon, and then their mortar section, from his commissioning in 1942 until his death on Saipan in 1944. He took notes on almost all of his photographs, and mailed them home in letters to his “Dear Girls” – his mother Margaretta, and younger sister Gretchen.
All images on this page are from the collection of the webmaster, and were provided by Gretchen Wood Williams.
For pictures of Phil before the service, visit So Much Remembering, So Little Time.
PFC Wood on the bayonet course at Quantico, 1942. He is carrying the 1903 Springfield rifle, standard issue for Marines in training and in combat during the early phases of the war.
Phil sent home this postcard of his barracks while at OCS.
Three officer candidates at Quantico, 1942.
“This is the boy I pal around with most down here [New River]. Ed Keyes, from Boston, a wild Irishman. Background is our beaverboard hut. Have to take some pictures of Paradise Point to show the difference.”
“Franey looking a little unpressed.” PFC Franey was a mortarman in Phil Wood’s platoon.
“Hurley on left. Squad leader, machine guns–great friend of Fred Reed’s (Swarthmore). A steam fitter for DuPont, with two children. Jowers – a big, tough woodsman from the Okefenokee swamps in Florida.”
“Wanagaitis and Flat-Foot Hall”
“Sgt. Tucker–section leader machine guns. A lot of the boys’ nicknames are strictly masculine, but you can guess his. ‘Taxi’ Wanagaitis sitting on one of our three light machine guns. Light? 62 pounds is plenty, even without ammo.”
“Izzo getting the word from Corp. Shaw, squad leader mortars, a North Carolina boy bloodthirsty for Japs to avenge his brother on Guadalcanal.”
“Spangler, the company music. A trifling part of a pack on the ground to the right.”
“The jeep driver Smitty, actually only 34 though he looks like a Colonel of 60.”
Merle “Mother” Geesaman. “Why so called is a mystery I’ve never solved.”
“Franey. You’d be amazed at the number of letters these boys write and receive, even though alot of them never went through eighth grade and their folks are illiterate. It’s a great thing to see them sweating with a pencil.”
“Franey, mortar section. These are only a few of my bows. I have 30 now and will have 38 in the next week or so.”
“A true infantryman. Feet feell just about this big and important after 30 miles in 6 1/2 hours. Although strangely I’ve never had a bit of trouble with them.” [Photo shows Howie Haff, mortar section]
“Kerr and Haff – inseperable buddies. Notice how well built all of the boys are?”
“Semaphore practice in front of the Company tent. Good shot of the California hills–a straight rise of 1000 feet or more, and all of our problems seem to takeplaceon top of these sons of guns. Certainly makes for beautiful scenery, though.”
“Haff & Kerr”
Riding in the company Jeep.
Two of Phil’s machine gunners – Amedeo Izzo and Tom Hurley – at Camp Pendleton, 1943.
“This lad made the mistake of sitting in some cactus, of which there is a Hell of a lot out here. One of the company corpsmen is straightening him out.”
“Company Police Sergeant Ckaminsky–a Russian Marine with 26 years straight service! 12 in China, where he lived like a king with a chauffeur and three White Russian concubines and knew Uncle Paul.”
“Sgt. Major Dolly–a NY newspaperman and my favorite character in the battalion. Really a great guy. Now Sgt. Major of the Battalion, used to be First Sgt. of Co. A. The only enlisted man I’ve ever palled around, gotten drunk with.”
“Me, moving under a dark cloud as usual.”
Phil Wood with his cousin, Bruce Campbell, during a visit to the Campbell home in the winter of 1943.
Officers of the battalion on a California beach, during the filming of “Guadalcanal Diary.”
Phil’s handwritten key to the Guadalcanal Diary picture.
The “Agony Quartette” aboard the USS DuPage – Eagle, Ted, Big Harry and Fireball.
Officers of Company A after Roi-Namur. Phil Wood, Roy Wood, Irving Schechter, Endecott Osgood, David Smith.
Company D officers after Namur. Top row: Swoyer, Webster, Marquandt, Santilli. Bottom row: Donovan, James, Stott, Bechtol.
Battalion officers aboard the SS Robin Wentley, en route to Camp Maui.
Getting back from a rough day in the field at Camp Maui, 1944.
Lt. Wood, all business at Camp Maui.
The mortar section, April 1944.
Phil Wood (standing) with some of his mortarmen, 1944.
Phil Wood, Harry Reynolds, a young lady who offered kisses for a quarter.
Phil’s grave in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery, Saipan.
Officers and men of the Fourth Marine Division at the Saipan cemetery dedication, 1944.
This plaque hung in the officer’s mess of the 24th Marines’ Camp Maui.
Phil’s grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu.