NO. 17620 • 3 February 1929 – 17 June 1997
Died 17 June 1997 in Lake Wylie, SC.
Cremated, ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean
STUART WOOD, JR., was born at Ft. Bragg, NC, on his father's birthday. He traveled with his father, Stuart '27, and mother Mary, as they were posted from Ft. Bragg to Hawaii, where a brother (ex-'56) joined the family, before the family went on to move to various other military stations.
As a youngster, a potential military career was nearly cut short at Ft. Sill when a dud exploded, shattering five-year old Stuart's right arm. His arm was shortened by an inch, with extensive ligament damage, creating a lifelong problem in maintaining a proper saluting posture with his right hand. Even with his injured arm, Stuart was presented with the opportunity to attend West Point, in part as a result of his father being a Japanese POW during WW II. He chose to do so, and took a short sojourn from Fishburne Military School to attend Sullies to prepare for the entrance exam. He was successful, and entered West Point with the Class of ‘50 in 1946.
Academics at West Point were challenging, but Stu, as he was known, managed to graduate in the top third of his class. While a cadet, he was a four-year member of the swim team, played lacrosse, was on the track team, and was in the 100th Night Show.
Stu's first assignment was with a tank battalion in Germany. After two years, he transfered to the Corps of Engineers, his desired branch. A year's service as aide-de-camp in Stuttgart brought him back to Ft. Bragg and the 82d Airborne Division, where he earned his airborne wings before heading for Korea. Serving two years combined as a company commander in the 82d Division in Korea was among the top assignments of Stu’s career.
Upon return stateside, Stu met the love of his life. Four months after reporting to Ft. Belvoir, he married Patricia Meredith, whom he had met at Ft. Bragg. They lived and loved for 40 years with four great children to complete their family.
Advance coursework led to Stu earning a masters degree at Texas A&M, where his first child was born. This was followed by a three-year tour in Alaska, where Stu was able to pursue several of his favorite pastimes - hunting, fishing, bowling, and skiing. A second child joined the family in Alaska. His next assignment brought the family back to Ft. Bragg, XVIII Airborne Corps, for two years, where a third child joined the family at Ft. Bragg before they headed overseas to Europe for three years. Working with NATO construction for that tour was very satisfying for Stu. His fourth child joined the family in Heidelberg, Germany.
Upon returning stateside once again, he brought the family to Colorado, where Stu taught civil engineering to USAF cadets. The family loved that assignment, and anchored in Colorado Springs.
Stu had two tours in southeast Asia, one as Commander, 27th Engineer Battalion, and the other as Chief of Operations, 18th Engineer Brigade. Upon his return to the U.S., Stu joined his family in Colorado Springs, where he became the NORAD Engineer, monitoring the expansion of the underground headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain. He became more closely involved when he was assigned as the Area Engineer responsible for the actual construction of that project.
In addition to his military attributes, Stu was a gregarious host. One was always welcomed by his "bear hug" greeting. While stationed at the Air Force Academy, Stu and Pat formed a gourmet club. Friends and classmates enjoyed many memorable evenings enhanced by his culinary efforts. While in Viet Nam, he hosted numerous dinner parties for fellow officers in his quarters. On one such occasion, a classmate visited him to renew their friendship, catch up on families and friends, and enjoy Stu’s cooking. Unfortunately, the enemy began shelling the compound. Dinner and drinks continued, however, while both huddled under Stu’s trailer.
Stu and Pat sailed with friends, classmates, and relatives in many parts of the world. He was at home in the galley, as well as on deck. Once, when he was short of butter for an evening meal he was preparing, Stu swam to a near-by anchored cruise. He got the butter and swam the side stroke back-holding the prize high-and-dry to the cheers of the cruiseship passengers and the delight of the shipmates.
Retirement in 1975 meant changing the color of the clothes he wore to work, as Stu moved immediatelv into the construction field. Construction took him all over the west before finally settling him in North Carolina. After nine years of following large-scale construction, Stu moved to a community college where he was a professor heading the Civil Engineering and Surveying Department. He enjoyed working with young people tremendously before his health forced his retirement in 1994. Back fusion, a knee replacement, and prostate and bone cancer rather limited his activities.
His military service was, recognized with numerous awards and decorations, including two Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medals, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. During his limited spare time, he authored two civil engineering texts, and edited his father’s memoirs of Japanese prison camp for publication.
Besides writing, Stu’s activities took him from SCUBA diving and sailing to golf and tennis, while his health still enabled him to participate. As a sideline, he oversaw the construction of numerous personal real estate projects.
After fighting cancer for more than four years, Stu - ever the officer and gentleman - joined his father and brother in the Long Gray Line.