Clark Newell Woodworth, Jr.

Do not look back for I am no longer there,
Just gently bow your head and quietly say a prayer.
In your memories and in your heart I will always be,
Just take one moment each day and silently think of me.
But do not shed a tear, for I am not alone,
Just lay me with my brothers in the garden of white stones.
– Ward Meldrum (2004), Clark’s nephew

Born September 19, 1934, in Ann Arbor Michigan, Clark Newell Woodworth Jr. was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1958 after receiving his B.A. at Michigan State University. Woodworth’s sister, Lynda Kay, felt something powerful motivated him to join the military, as their family had no history of serving.

With a substantial age difference between them, she was in middle school when Woodworth went off to college, she never learned what that motivation was. But while she knew he “followed the pack into Business Administration,” she was sure that ROTC appealed to him, not only because of the “structure and discipline,” but because he would have taken pride in excelling in a “different world.” She said, “He was always very fit. He was one of the tallest and strongest centers on the AAHS (Ann Arbor High School) basketball team and he was a ‘stand out’ on slalom skiing.”

Woodworth began his Army career on January 2, 1959. He was assigned to the 503rd Aviation Battalion, Third Armored Division (Germany) from September 1961-January 1964 and was stationed at Fort Bliss (El Paso, TX) from January-November 1964 after returning to the States. From December 1964-December 1965 Woodworth served as Commander, C Company, Seventh Battalion, Third Training Brigade (Fort Gordon, GA). From January 3, 1966, until his death, he served as Advisor, 10th ARVN Infantry Division, Advisory Team 87, HQ, MACV Advisors, MACV (Vietnam).

The advisory team was made up of five men, Captain Clark N. Woodworth Jr., Battalion Advisor; 1st Lieutenant Arthur J. McGowan, Assistant Battalion Advisor; Staff Sergeant Albert C. Roberts, Light Weapons Infantry Advisor; Staff Sergeant Lon W. Skolek, Heavy Weapons Infantry Advisor; and Private First Class Rodney E. Nauman, Radio Operator. Along with the 1st Battalion, 43rd Infantry Regiment, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which consisted of 450 soldiers broken into four companies, they were located the northern Binh Tuy Province of Vietnam in the “NEW LIFE” hamlet of Vo Xu.

The Battalion came under small arms fire from the Viet Cong around 2130 hours on evening of February 27, 1966, along their southern border, as well as limited fire from the west. Fire from the west increased around 0058 hours, initially aimed at the daytime Command Post, then switching to the nighttime Command Post.

Woodworth’s team, which was situated at the nighttime Command Post, were assisting with improving defensive positions, returning fire and remaining in contact with Regiment and Division headquarters. Around 0202 hours PFC Nauman was struck in the leg by small arms fire while operating the radio. First aid was administered by SSgt Skolek, who then took over radio operation.

Heavy small arms fire increased around 0230 hours. Shortly thereafter Woodworth,, Lt McGowan and SSgt Roberts left the nighttime Command Post to check defensive positions to the southwest. Moments later Skolek and Nauman were forced move to a building further east when the nighttime Command Post came under extremely heavy machine gun fire where they observed 60 to 80 Viet Cong moving toward the center of Vo Xu.

While Skolek and Nauman were forced to continue eastward, Woodworth, McGowan and Roberts had moved to a ditch south of the nighttime Command Post. Skolek, under heavy fire, went out to determine the best air strike locations, which were called in by Nauman, who had taken over radio operation.

Woodworth left the safety of the ditch “to give further directions as to the conduct of the battle.” Captain Woodworth was killed in action by small arms fire at approximately 0356 hours on February 28, 1966. After McGowan reported no pulse, Roberts was killed instantly as he and McGowan left the protection of the ditch to retrieve Woodworth’s body and McGowan was been hit in the left arm by an M-79 grenade. McGowan (who took several more wounds), Skolek and Nauman were evacuated later that day.

Among the medals Woodworth has received, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. His name can be found on Panel 5E, Line 92, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and he is interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 69, Grave 803.

Woodworth Consolidated Library also was dedicated to Captain Woodworth, officially opening its doors on November 10, 1966. In his memory, Woodworth’s parents, Clark Sr. and Rose (a Rosie the Riveter at the Willow Run Plant near Ypsilanti, MI), planted a magnolia tree next to the library and his sister, Lynda Kay, presented the library with a  portrait of him painted by Norman Adams in 1967.

For a more detailed accounting, photos and documentation for the Woodworth family archives, please click here.

Sources:

Sources: I would like to personally thank Captain Woodworth’s sister, Lynda Woodworth, and his nephew, Ward Meldrum, for all their assistance in writing this story. Much of the information came from their personal archives and their determination to learn what happened to Captain Woodworth in his final days. I can never truly express my sorrow at their loss, but I hope in some small way this story will help to ensure his sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Pinterest

About Jenifer Chrisman

Jenifer joined the MWR Marketing team in 2011 as graphic designer. In 2014, she went back to her roots when she joined the Fort Gordon FYI Magazine team as a writer, along with her designer duties. As of 2015, she has created a series of briefs about the history, culture and traditions of the military called Culture.Mil, as well as writing various other pieces, including her favorite … A Thin Line Of Many Colors.

9 comments:

  1. Jenifer, thank you for your wonderful tribute to Clark. You did an excellent job capturing Clark’s life.
    I wish my mother and father were here to see this. They would be so proud.
    Thank you again for all you do, Lynda Kay Woodworth

  2. This is an excellent article explaining about Clark. He and his wife, Gerry, were stationed with my husband and me in Germany, then in August at Fort Gordon. My husband, Capt. Jerry McNabb, was also killed shortly thereafter. We were all friends during amost all of their Army service.
    Just wondering why his wife was not mentioned in this article? I was with her when the magnolia tree was planted in his honor near the library. Why was she omitted? I am sure it was an honest mistake……

  3. Good Day Anne,

    The article was written in conjunction to the Woodworth 50+1 Celebration. The intent of the article was to give a background of the library’s namesake. In no way were we intentionally trying to leave Mrs. Woodworth out of the article. The article was completed based off of the letters, photos and memories provided by his sister. She is who was interviewed.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful article about Clark. I knew him as a child growing up as he was my best friend’s older brother.

    We must never forget the bravery of these young men. Thanks to your article, we won’t. Thank you.

  5. What a lovely, comprehensive article commemorating Clark’s service to our great country. Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to write this, and thanks to Ward Meldrum (my cousin) and my aunt, Lynda Kay Woodworth, for the many hours you took to compile the information and photos to assist Jennifer. Just two weeks ago I was in D.C. and visited his name on The Wall, my 6th visit to the wall to honor him since his reinterment at Arlington National Cemetery, in 2004. My son is the little boy pictured in the photo on the link, at his headstone in Arlington. He is named after Clark. What an incredible honor to be commemorated with a library. It speaks to his amazing sacrifice and character.

  6. A BIG thanks to Jenifer for all of her work. Clark died in the service of out country on 28Feb1966. I never has the honor of meeting him but I have always felt a connection. In his last letter home to my parents in Feb he told my mother to take care of his nephew! I was born 9 weeks later! His reinterment at Arlington in 2004 became a family reunion. People who had never met or had seen each other in many years came together to share memories of Clark. I was honored to meet my Aunt Lynda, Clark’s sister, and we have formed a great friendship. Family members from across the US got to come together, meet, and share memories of Clark. I really believe that he would have been proud. The next task is have another reunion at Ft. Gordon.

  7. This is an excellent military historical record of Cpt Woodworth. The accuracy of the incident, the pictures, and background documents and history are an excellent testament to a true Army hero who followed his calling. It was a pleasure and honor to read on this Veteran’s day 2017. Every American should be proud of Cpt Woodworth’s service as well as the service of all men and women in the Armed Forces.

  8. It has been my honor and privilege to document Clark’s history, as well as having the opportunity to be in contact with his sister, Lynda Kay, and his nephew, Ward. I could not have written this story without them.

    Clark’s courage and sacrifice should be memorialized, not just for those who remember him, but for future generations. As a part of the culture.mil series, Clark’s story helps to keep another little piece of our military history alive, to honor the sacrifices of our Veterans and so our current and future military may learn about those whose shoulders they stand upon.

    Our military, past present and future, are a necessary and integral part of our country. They stand up and fight for the many blessings and freedoms we have. And it is because of them our country will continue to be great.

    Thank you again to Lynda Kay and Ward, who made this story possible, to Clark and those he served with, for their courage and sacrifice, to all who have read the story and to all who have commented on it. Your comments have touched my heart. And thank you to all who have served, are serving now and who will serve in the future.

Leave a Reply