U.S. Army – World War II
Dr. Benjamin Wood came from a family of physicians, and continued the tradition by producing his own family of physicians – with a twist. All five of his sons became physicians; he and four of them served as physicians in the United States Armed Forces.
For the senior Dr. Wood, it wasn’t a matter of choice. He had earned his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh, then went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for training in pediatrics in 1938. There he met a young lady from South Dakota named LaVaun “Vonnie” Gray. They got married and moved to Cleveland for an internal medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic.
In the summer of 1941, Dr. Wood got called into the U.S. Army for assignment to North Africa.
“My mother fell apart on the detailer’s desk,” said their son David. “She said I’m all alone in Cleveland and pregnant. You can’t take my husband away from me. The guy shuffled through some papers on his desk and said there was an opening for someone to run a lab in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.”
So Dr. Wood served there until his first son was born. Then he was sent to North Africa. But before he left, Vonnie was pregnant again. This time, however, the pregnancy didn’t stop him from being sent overseas.
In North Africa, Captain Wood served in a mobile army hospital that followed the troops who were chasing Rommel through the desert. After North Africa was secured, he moved with his hospital on up into Sicily.
“Dad had one of those short military jackets,” David said. “It had four hash marks on the sleeve. We asked him what they were for. He said each of them represents six months service overseas. He had wanted to come home earlier, but they told him if he did, he would have to go back and serve even longer. Finally after two years he came home.”
But he wasn’t released from the army at that time. He was sent to San Antonio for tropical medicine training. Fortunately, the war in the Pacific ended before he was deployed there.
He returned to practice pediatrics in Sharon until his death in 1976. All five of his sons – Benjamin, Michael, John, Arthur, and David – are doctors. All but Arthur served in the United States armed forces.
He was survived not only by his wife and sons, but also by fifteen grandchildren and nine grandchildren.