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Famed Colorado Springs photographer was an unknown Army hero

By: Tony Peck
February 18, 2018 Updated: February 18, 2018 at 7:21 am
0
photo - U.S. Army infantry
officer 1st Lt. Myron
Wood in dress
uniform sitting
in 1945 on a rock
with a cactus to the
right. Decorations
on his uniform
include the Purple
Heart, the Bronze
Star and European
Theater campaign
ribbons. He wears
three Overseas
Service Bars on his
left sleeve, indicating
that Wood had
served at least 18
months in a combat
zone. The image
was probably taken
in New Mexico
where Wood was
sent to recuperate
from wounds received
in combat.
Note the moccasins
he is wearing. MYRON WOOD COLLECTION, COURTESY OF PIKES PEAK LIBRARY DISTRICT, 002-6127
U.S. Army infantry officer 1st Lt. Myron Wood in dress uniform sitting in 1945 on a rock with a cactus to the right. Decorations on his uniform include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and European Theater campaign ribbons. He wears three Overseas Service Bars on his left sleeve, indicating that Wood had served at least 18 months in a combat zone. The image was probably taken in New Mexico where Wood was sent to recuperate from wounds received in combat. Note the moccasins he is wearing. MYRON WOOD COLLECTION, COURTESY OF PIKES PEAK LIBRARY DISTRICT, 002-6127 

To many, Myron Wood is known as a prolific photographer. To fewer, he was the pianist who regaled Colorado Springs pedestrians with ragtime music. But to an intimate few, he was the courageous Army officer who led his men through Normandy, France, in 1944.

Wood is best known for his photographs of Southwest vistas and a series of artist Georgia O'Keeffe in her New Mexico home. But he was an enigma to his children.

As a child. John Wood did not have the opportunity to get to know his father. After his parents divorced, Wood's mother took him and his sister, Margaret Wood, to Norman, Okla., while his father stayed in Colorado.

"He would drive out to Norman and visit us," Wood said of his father. "But I didn't really get to know him."

Then in 1984, Wood flew out to Colorado Springs to visit his aging father and thought, "Shoot, I like this place."

"I visited in the summer, and then in January of '85, I moved out here."

Wood seized the opportunity to get to know his father.

"I would walk home from work and stop by his house on the way," Wood remembered. "I would stop by his darkroom sometimes. He could pull out detail in a photo, grains on the wall, detail in the wood beams."

Wood also recalled his father's love of the piano. "He was a champion piano player," he said.

In 1990, Myron Wood had his first stroke. Three years later, he had his second.

But the younger Wood did not stop learning about his father. One day, while cleaning out boxes, Wood found his father's World War II papers.

On June 11, 1944, Army Lt. Myron Wood landed with the 30th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Four days later, he would earn the Bronze Star Medal near Montmartin-en-Graignes, several miles southeast of Carentan, France.

On June 15, 1944, Wood led his men through heavy machine-gun fire, through several feet of water and took a bridge, resulting in 25 dead Germans, according to his Bronze Star citation.

Wood's son also found letters from the men his father led in France.

"I saw Lt. Wood wade through 5 feet of water and we all followed him. We fought like hell and finally drove the enemy from the bridge," wrote Pvt. James Beckett, one of Wood's soldiers, in 1944. "I also saw Lt. Wood crawl on his belly for 70 yards to one of our wounded men and gave him first aid."

A month after his heroic actions in Normandy, Wood was wounded and returned to Santa Fe to heal. While convalescing, Wood rediscovered his love for photography, his son said.

"He goes from the most peaceful of activities to the most violent and then back again," Wood said of his father. "He saw the worst of what man can do to man."

For a man who left a photographic legacy, his son feels much of his story was never told.

"He is not here anymore," Wood said. "I am his voice."

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