Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Sidney Sterling Woods

Military

Lt. Col. Sidney Woods joined the Army in the cavalry in 1939 and transferred to flight school, earning his wings in September 1941.
Based in the South Pacific, he flew P-40s and P-38s with the 9th FS 49th FG shooting down 2 Japanese aircraft during 112 combat missions. He returned to the States in 1943 and was soon assigned to the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) flying P-38s with the 479th FG. His tour completed, he again returned to the States. He returned to the ETO flying P-51 Mustangs with the 4th Fighter Group as Deputy Group Commander, becoming Group Commander on 26 February 1945.
On 22 March, on an escort mission with 15th AF bombers from Italy, no enemy action was encountered. After their escort duties ended the Mustang pilots headed towards Berlin. They spotted 15 FW-190s loaded with bombs taking off from an airfield. They dove on the 190s and Sidney was lining up on the tail of one. When close behind the 190 he pulled the trigger to drop his wing tanks, but when only one jettisoned, the drag on the other in the 190's slipstream caused his P-51 to flip on its back. He recovered from his inverted position and shot down the first aircraft. Meanwhile, a 190 was firing a deflection shot at him from above. He pulled up, fired, and flamed the second enemy aircraft. He went after a third, gave him a short burst, and it crashed.
He then went after another that was firing at another Mustang and destroyed it. He turned and chased a fifth enemy aircraft and, seeing his tracers miss, he adjusted his aim and with his remaining tracers he shot down his fifth for the day!
On Sidney's 68th mission over Prague he was shot down by flak and became a POW for thirteen days. When the European war ended, and he was sent home to the States and discharged in 1945.
He was called back to active duty in 1951-52, commanding a training unit. During this time he led the Air Force Jet Aerobatic Team. When finally discharged, he had 7 victories and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Croix de Guerre.
He became a successful business man in Arizona and was active in politics, He died of cancer at the age of 71.

DSC Citation:
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Air Corps) Sidney Sterling Woods (ASN: O-377222), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane in the 4th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 22 March 1945, in the European Theater of Operations. On this date Lieutenant Colonel Woods became an ace in a day by shooting down five Focke-Wulf 190s. Lieutenant Colonel Woods' unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 8th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces."

Headquarters, U.S. Strategic Forces in Europe, General Orders No. 34 (1945)

Service

People

  • Robert Easley

    Military | Sergeant | Armorer
    Easley was Sidney Woods' armorer and part of "the best ground crew in the world", according to Woods!

  • Roderic Lonier

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Crew Chief
    Lonier was Sidney Woods' Crew Chief and part of "the best ground crew in the world", according to Woods!

Show more

Units served with

  • 479th Fighter Group

    479th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 479th was the last Fighter Group to join the Eighth Air Force, which they did on 14 May 1944. Known as "Riddle's Raiders", after their first Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Kyle L. Riddle, the Group flew escort and fighter sweep missions before D-Day....

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • Headquarters (479th Fighter Group)
  • Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    Headquarters
    The Headquarters Squadron was made up of true leaders. Most had flown Hurricanes, Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs. ...

Aircraft

  • 44-72251

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. One-time personal aircraft of Lt Col Sidney S Woods. Shot down by flak over Prague, Czechoslovakia, on Woods 68th mission in the ETO when Woods was leading Group "A" in a strafing attack against the Luftwaffe bases in...

Associated Place

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...

  • Wattisham

    Military site : airfield
    Built in 1938 as a medium bomber station with a grass airfield, Wattisham was occupied by the RAF until handed over to the Eighth Air Force in September 1942. The 68th Observation Group was the first American unit to occupy the station from October to...

  • Stalag Luft III

    Other location

  • Dulag Luft 12

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born San Marcos, Texas 25 July 1917
Lived in Somerton, AZ, USA 1940
Enlisted Fort Bliss, el Paso, TX 11 February 1941

Fort Bliss el Paso Texas

Assigned Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 26 February 1944 – 16 April 1945

Assigned to command 4th Fighter Group.

Prisoner of War (POW) Zagan, Poland 16 April 1945 – 29 April 1945

Prisoner of War (POW). Stalag Luft III.

Shot down Prague, Czech Republic 16 April 1945

On his 68th mission over Prague he was shot down by flak and became a POW for thirteen days.

Died Yuma, AZ, USA 31 March 1989
Buried Desert Lawn Memorial Park Yuma Yuma County AZ April 1989

Desert Lawn Memorial Park
Yuma
Yuma County
Arizona, USA.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
13 May 2022 10:01:17 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, biography, awards and events
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/record/84734880/sidney-s-woods-wwii-army-enlistmen...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/103587042/sidney-sterling-woods

Date Contributor Update
12 May 2022 22:52:52 fugari Changes to biography
Sources

JCook archives

Date Contributor Update
30 May 2021 10:52:09 Al_Skiff Changes to events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/103587042/sidney-sterling-woods

Date Contributor Update
16 November 2016 11:26:02 general ira snapsorter Changes to unit associations
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- MACR 14130;
- Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Date Contributor Update
07 April 2016 22:05:32 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, awards and events
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_S._Woods
http://veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=1111
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=103587042

Date Contributor Update
07 April 2016 21:59:56 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_S._Woods
http://veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=1111

Date Contributor Update
11 April 2015 17:49:15 apollo11 Changes to biography and events
Sources

Personal research & 'The Debden Eagles' by Garry L. Fry.

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2015 17:34:36 apollo11 Changes to biography, awards and aircraft associations
Sources

All information correct as far as I am aware.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:25:10 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force/ MACR 14130 / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

Share