Ceremony to honor Ezra Woods
Published 12:00 am, Friday, April 20, 2018
The Ezra Woods American Legion Post 31 in New Milford will honor its namesake Saturday at 11 a.m.
Rifle honors will be offered, a flag folding ceremony will be held and “Taps” will be played at Woods’ gravesite at Center Cemetery in town.
The event will recognize the 100th anniversary of Woods’ death.
Woods, who was born in 1897, was the first veteran from New Milford to be killed — on April 21, 1918 — during World War I.
Jeff McBreairty of the local post said, according to local newspapers, Woods is interred in Cemetery 72 in France.
Following is information about Woods submitted by McBreairty:
Woods grew up in New Milford and worked on the family farm. When the recruiters of the 102nd Connecticut National Guard came to New Milford in 1917 to find recruits to man its unit up to 2,500 men in manpower, Woods was among the men who signed up.
In the spring of 1918, the Connecticut Regiment, along with several other units in the Massachusetts, all in one the “Yankee Division “ (26th Infantry), were called to active duty and became the first American units to arrive in Europe to fight.
It is believed that the expression of “Yanks” or “Yankees” was originated at this time by the French because of this unit, “The Yankee Division, 26th Infantry.”
In April of that year, the 102nd Connecticut unit was used to relieve a forward position unit in Remieres Woods, near Seicheprey, France.
The battle front was quiet on the cold night of April 19-20. At about 2 or 3 a.m., the 102nd came under a full German offensive.
The fighting was severe, with orders to hold at all costs, and the unit held steadfast.
Nearing dawn, the Germans suddenly retreated and the battle came to an end.
The casualty loss of the 102nd was more than 80 percent. One of the casualities was Woods.
He was the first listed as missing in action, but later changed to killed in action.
There was no formal American Legion post at the time of his death. Veterans met in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Building, which is presently the New Milford Public Library.
The American Legion in New Milford was officially formed and created in 1931 in honor of Woods being the first fallen soldier from New Milford during World War I.