NEW YORK, NY, USA U.S. Army CPT, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 67TH ARMOR REGIMENT, FORT HOOD, TX 76544 BA’ QUBAH, IRAQ 11/20/2003
George Wood seemed invincible to his family and friends.
The 33-year-old Army captain led four tanks in Iraq, and hoped to use the experience of leading troops to help him prepare for a doctorate. But on Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered at a funeral Mass at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church for the fallen soldier who was killed in Iraq last week when the vehicle he was riding in struck an explosive.
“It’s impossible for me to accept that he’s dead,” his wife, Lisa Wood, told the Observer-Dispatch of Utica. “My mind knows, but some part of me has not accepted it.”
Wood grew up in nearby Marcy in central New York, and attended Notre Dame Junior Senior High School in Utica, where he excelled in football and track and field. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Cornell University and master’s degrees at the University at Albany and Cortland State, where he joined the ROTC.
Wood also leaves behind the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Maria.
“She has his very bright blue eyes,” Lisa Wood said. “She has a small cleft on her chin like he did. And I think she has his nose.”
Her husband of six years found it difficult being away while his daughter was growing up, Lisa Wood said. She tried to write him a letter daily, telling him of funny things Maria did that day, and mailed him audiocassette tapes of events such as their daughter’s birthday.
“George talked about both of his ladies all the time,” Lt. Col. Joseph Martin, Wood’s commander in Iraq, said in a prepared statement read at Saturday’s service by Wood’s Cornell football coach.
Relatives and friends remembered Wood as a history buff who hoped to someday teach and coach at the U.S. Military Academy.
From an early age, Wood was fascinated by military history. Theron Perna, a childhood friend, said he remembered constantly bickering with Wood about the tactical abilities and strategies of two generals.
“That was an ongoing argument we had since we were, gee, 6,” Perna said.
Lisa Wood will likely return to Fort Hood, Texas, where her husband was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.
“Nothing could make me happier than the sound of him puttering around on the computer and flipping through his books,” she said. “That was the sound of home to me.”