Sunday, September 09, 2007

Marine Cpl. Travis M. Woods

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Travis M. Woods, 21, of Redding, Calif.

Cpl. Woods was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Sept. 9, 2007 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan.

An insurgent-planted anti-tank mine killed a Palo Cedro Marine early Sunday, friends and family members said Wednesday as they prepared for his weekend funeral.

Cpl. Travis Woods was traveling in a Humvee in Afghanistan's Northern Helmand province when the mine went off, according to the Department of Defense and Woods' friend Nate Hahn.

Woods' body absorbed the brunt of the blast, Hahn said.

"Him taking the impact saved the other four Marines in that vehicle," he said. "They walked away from it."

Hahn, a U.S. Marine sergeant scout sniper who enlisted with Woods while a student at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, said news of Woods' sacrifice came as the Marine's body slowly made its way back from Afghanistan.

Stacey Woods, the Marine's mother, said a funeral is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at St.Anthony's Catholic Church, 507 Pine St. in Mount Shasta.

The public is invited.

"We picked that church because that's where he was baptized," Stacey Woods said Wednesday from the Mount Shasta home of her parents, Colleen and Dan Aquila.

Woods is the second soldier killed in Afghanistan to be memorialized in the church.

U.S. Army Cpl. Matthew P. Steyart, 21, was killed Nov. 22, 2005, in Shah Wali Kot, Afghanistan.

As with Woods, a bomb detonated near the Mount Shasta soldier's military vehicle during patrol operations.

As the community and his family grieves, so, too, does Hahn, 21, and a close-knit group of friends who scattered after high school but are back together, sipping beers and reminiscing about the often-outrageous exploits of their friend.

When they're not crying, they spend much of their time laughing.

"Travis was one of those guys who did some of that weird, crazy stuff you talk about until you're 90 years old," he said.

Eight of Woods' closest friends are back in the north state or are en route from across the U.S., Hahn said.

But one friend, Joe Arledge -- a specialist in the U.S. Army -- is being contacted in Iraq.

Stacey Woods said she hopes the soldier can attend her son's funeral.

Serving their country in wartime seems to be a theme among Woods' friends.

Hahn served a tour in Iraq and is scheduled to be discharged from the Marines next summer. Woods was to be discharged in a few weeks.

Hahn said he asked his commanders at Camp Pendleton for a leave of absence so he could properly grieve for his best friend and be there for Woods' family -- especially Woods' mother.

Hahn said Stacey Woods was a "second mom" for all the boys when they were in high school, letting them hang out at her home and lending a caring ear when they had problems.

"She was that mom that everyone could trust," Hahn said. "She loved every one of us."

Woods was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Pendleton.

Hahn said Woods was a member of the Marine Special Operations Battalions (MSOB), an elite counter-terrorism force that uses unconventional tactics to fight insurgents.

Hahn said MSOB recently took the place of the Marines' Force Reconnaissance teams, which served as the Marine Corps' elite fighting force similar to the Navy SEALs or the Army Rangers.

Marine Cpl. Travis M. Woods was killed in action on 9/9/07.

No comments: