Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Died of wounds
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Holst Township
Newspaper article about Woodrow’s death and his headstone in Luxembourg American Cemetery
Woodrow Wilson was born March 7, 1916 in Holst Township, Clearwater County, Minnesota to Frank and Cora Nancy Adkins Wilson. Frank had been born and raised in Le Sueur and Wadena counties in Minnesota and came to Clearwater County in 1903. Cora, a widow with five children, had grown up in Bertown, Wisconsin before marrying Frank at Bagley on March 7, 1904. Frank and Cora had ten children between them: Ida Smith, Edyth Smith, Floyd Smith, Joe Smith, Sadie Smith, William Wilson, Lloyd Wilson, Nellie (Ellen) Wilson, John Wilson, and Woodrow Wilson.
Woodrow attended school through the 8th grade, then went to work cutting wood. In December of 1938 he married Irene Mildred Aune, a farm girl from Eddy Township. On January 22, 1939, Woodrow and Irene had a son they named Rodney Wayne Wilson.
Woodrow registered for the draft on October 16, 1940 in Bagley. He was 5’7” tall with hazel eyes and brown hair. He enlisted in the Army at Fort Snelling on February 14, 1944. His skills were listed under “skilled chauffers and drivers,” so he was attached to a tank unit, the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division.
The 4th Armored Division landed at Utah Beach on July 11, 1944 and 6 days later was in full combat securing the Coutances area in France. They then took Nantes in August, drove swiftly across France and smashed the Moselle in mid-September, then captured Luneville. The 4th fought several German panzergrenadier brigades in the Lorraine area and defeated the larger forces through superior tactics and training. After a brief rest, the 4th returned to combat in November near Viviers; cleared Bois de Serres and crossed the Saar River. The Germans launched their Ardennes Offensive on the 16th of December and the 4th was in the thick of it. They were the first unit to break through at Bastogne to relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division on the 26th of December, but Private Woodrow Wilson had been wounded in the fierce battle at Bigonville and died of his wounds on Christmas Eve, 1944.
The 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion received the blue streamer of a distinguished unit citation on its colors and Irene Wilson posthumously received Woodrow’s Purple Heart. The relief of Bastogne had cost the 4th Armored Division about 1,000 men killed and wounded. Thirty soldiers of the 53rd died, including Private Woodrow Wilson, and 180 were wounded.
Woodrow was buried in Plot A, Row 2, Grave 18 in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, Luxembourg. He was 28 years old.