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Tuskegee Airmen living legend ‘Woody’ Woodhouse would like people to live by deeds instead of words

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Tuskegee Airmen living legend ‘Woody’ Woodhouse would like people to live by deeds instead of words

Facta Non Verba. That’s Latin for “Deeds Not Words.”

It’s the motto for Boston’s Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, a patriotic organization formed in 1638 to train young officers to serve the commonwealth, and a virtue that its first Black member, retired Lt. Col. Enoch “Woody” Woodhouse II, said he wished more people would embody.

“The last two or three years, it has become more divisive because certain elements have surfaced,” Woodhouse, one of “20, 25” remaining members of World War II’s legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black fighter pilot unit, said on the state of race in American society.

Two recent examples came to his mind: The hardline racist messaging of neo-Nazis who protested last weekend outside Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and President Biden saying he will nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He should have said, ‘I’m going to nominate the best person, man or woman,’” Woodhouse said.

An announcement colored by racial and gender labels applies stigma to the nominee, he said, while the “virtue signaling” benefits only Biden in a world that puts words before deeds.

Woodhouse, who turned 95 last month, experienced racism since he was born at Boston’s Lying-In Hospital, now Brigham and Women’s, on Jan. 14, 1927. His dad, a second-generation Methodist minister who took his son to every Harvard commencement speech to inspire a love of higher education, had tried to get young Woody admitted to Boston’s Latin School but failed due to prevailing discrimination at the time.

Woodhouse graduated from Boston’s English High School in 1944 and kicked off a life full of “hope, unity, and optimism,” topics he still speaks on with great humor and insight on the lecture circuit and on phone calls with leaders and newsmakers all day long.

Finally landing at his current apartment building, where he spoke in a laugh-filled conversation with the Herald this week, a mere block or two from his birthplace in the Mission Hill neighborhood, represents a circle that saw him navigate around both the world and its history.

Spurred by his mother’s concern over the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, Woodhouse’s parents signed his enlistment papers on his 17th birthday, and he boarded a train after high school graduation for training in Texas with about 20 of his classmates. His own ride on the scheduled trip came to a stop at the St. Louis station when an “Archie Bunker-type” conductor told him to get off.

Left at the station with about $7 in his pocket and his white friends on the train passing into the distance, Woodhouse was approached by a Black porter who asked if Woodhouse had ever been south before. His response: “Yeah, I’ve been to New York.” That told the porter all he needed to know. He gave Woody a chicken sandwich from his own kitchen — not accepting payment — and told him the train he was allowed on would be there in 9 hours.

The coal-fired train arrived at base nearly a day late, and the receiving sergeant was not impressed by the soot-covered teen who had limited ways to express what had happened with the three military-approved responses: “No, sir; Yes, sir; and No excuse, sir.”

Such an inauspicious beginning would be short-lived: With Woody too young to serve in combat, Col. Benjamin Davis, Jr., the first Black commanding officer of a base, sent Woody off to finance school for him to serve as paymaster for the Tuskegee Airmen. He saw the military desegregated in 1948 and continued to serve in reserve for the newly-formed Air Force until retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1997.

He went on to graduate from Yale in 1952 with what he called a B.A.A., “Before Affirmative Action” — he said degrees have been stigmatized by being perceived as not being earned on merit — and received his law degree from Boston University in 1955.

He had his own trial law practice and served, he said, as the first African American courier for the U.S. State Department, a gig that had him in Paris, London, deep behind the Iron Curtain, the Middle East and on the last flight out of Havana in 1959, from which he saw Fidel Castro wave a rifle from the control tower.

He and the other Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006. The last Tuskegee Airmen member to pass was Brigadier Gen. Charles McGee, on Jan. 16.

Woodhouse met his wife, Stella, who is white and a contributing factor in his concern over the divisiveness of race today, in an Albany, N.Y., snowstorm, “and I mean a blizzard,” when he had her and her two friends join him in the last taxi available to the bus station. They’ve been married for 40 years.

“All I want to do is just be treated like anybody else,” Woodhouse said. “I don’t want special treatment. I don’t want special consideration.”

BOSTON MA. – FEBRUARY 3: Enoch “Woody” Woodhouse, one of the last remaining Tuskegee Airmen, holds a Congressional Gold Medal on Feb. 3, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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Sept. 1 trial status hearing scheduled for teen in killing of Chippewa Falls girl, 10

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Iliana (Lily) Peters family photo

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin teenager accused of killing a 10-year-old girl will find out in September whether he will stand trial.

Chippewa County Circuit Judge Benjamin Lane on Friday scheduled a Sept. 1 preliminary hearing for the 14-year-old boy, identified in court documents as C.T.P.-B. That’s the step in the criminal justice process where a judge determines if enough evidence exists to bind a defendant over for trial.

The body of Iliana (Lily) Peters, 10, was found in the woods near her aunt’s house in Chippewa Falls, Wis., on April 25, 2022, the day after her father reported her missing. (Courtesy of the Chippewa Falls Police Department)

The boy was charged in adult court on April 27 with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 13 in connection with the killing of Iliana Peters, who was known as Lily. Anyone who is at least 10 years old and is accused of first- or second-degree homicide is considered an adult in Wisconsin’s court system.

Lily disappeared on the night of April 24 as she was riding her bike home from her aunt’s house in Chippewa Falls, according to the criminal complaint. Searchers found her body in the woods the next morning.

The boy told investigators that he was riding his hoverboard alongside Lily on a trail and he intended to sexually assault and kill her, according to the complaint.

He asked Lily to leave the trail and explore the woods with him. According to the complaint, he told investigators that once they were off the trail, he punched her, hit her with a stick and strangled her before he sexually assaulted her body.

The boy’s attorney, Michael Cohen, told Lane on Friday that he was upset that someone posted a video online that included recordings of police communications in the moments Lily’s body was found and that characterized the boy as a “little monster.” Cohen alleged that someone in law enforcement leaked confidential information to the poster and demanded the judge issue a gag order. He didn’t specify against whom, though.

Lane asked Cohen for the link to the video and stated that anyone with access to investigatory materials should keep them confidential and their release could jeopardize the boy’s right to a fair trial.

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Sainted & Tainted: Half of my summer is gone because you didn’t yield

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Sainted & Tainted: Half of my summer is gone because you didn’t yield

Tainted & Sainted

Tainted: June 3, between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. at Johnson Parkway and Sixth Street. The male driver in a black pickup didn’t yield to me and crossed into the bike path where I fell under the bike to avoid hitting your truck. All you did was sit in the truck and say you’re sorry. You left as soon as I got off the street. Half of my summer is gone because of this.

Tainted: Whoever designed this bike path. Hardly anyone stops at the stop sign. Just stop at the corner. Many close calls to me and I’ve told all to stop. Maybe put a yield sign or stop signs on the west side of Johnson. They don’t know how to yield.

Sainted: To the one driver who asked if I was OK. Much appreciated. Felt fine at the time but did break my elbow.

Barb Anderson, St. Paul

 

Tainted

I think It would be desirable if those responsible for the St. Paul skyway system could maintain uniform hours for the operation of the system.

They have posted operating hours indicating a close of 11 p.m., but this is contradicted by one posting indicating a 12 p.m. closing. The reality is that neither apply as I discovered this past Saturday when returning to my apartment from a downtown restaurant.

The location in the general vicinity (east) of the Subway operation was closed at 10 p.m. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect uniform operating hours to be observed.

Roger A. Godin, St. Paul

 

Sainted

An incredible Sainted to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater. I had surgery this past Tuesday and had never been there before. The care I received was phenomenal. The staff was incredible and compassionate.

I was on the first floor and it was like a party when they came in for vitals, etc. Kelly always referred me to as The Boss. Thank you for such kindness and for helping me through such a painful surgery. And an even bigger shout out to my personal paramedics Shawna S. and Mary F.  Thank you both so much for everything. I’d be lost without you.

Laura McGinn, St. Paul

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ASK IRA: Could another Heat run at Kevin Durant be in the cards?

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ASK IRA: Could another Heat run at Kevin Durant be in the cards?

Q: Ira, we’ve been burned by Kevin Durant before. We can’t be fooled into fool’s gold again. – Ian.

A: Look, this whole Brooklyn Nets-will-implode storyline is so bizarre, so speculative, so seemingly preposterous that perspective needs to be toned down all around on the possibilities of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant departing. But to your question, this also is an opportunity to address the notion of the Heat being “burned” when coming up short in free agency, including when Pat Riley and Micky Arison traveled to the Hamptons in an attempt to woo Kevin Durant during 2016 free agency. It was the same narrative when the Heat “came up short” with Gordon Hayward (and even to a degree the supposed previous “failure” to nab Kyrie). Being mentioned in such speculation means your franchise has earned the respect of players and agents. That is a good thing. The Heat get into the room (unless it’s LeBron’s Las Vegas suite). And if Kevin Durant does attempt to work his way elsewhere, they likely will be back in the room.

Q: Nikola Jovic seems a bit slow footed when I watch his clips. I’d like to see him get serious playing time in Sioux Falls, so he can adjust to the NBA speed. – James.

A: But I’m not sure the G League game, which can be helter skelter at times, is the preferred tempo, either. This could be more along the lines of Omer Yurtseven’s rookie season with the Heat, where it will be mostly developmental, with some as-needed time as warranted/merited. Remember, Nikola Jovic will become the youngest Heat player ever to appear in a game in the franchise’s 35 seasons. That has to be about patience, for more than just foot speed.

Q: Ira, you listed players the Heat passed on to get Nikola Jovic. Who would you have preferred? – Anthony.

A: So basically you’re asking me to trump my preference in the moment at the 2020 draft for Desmond Bane? I’m not sure there is anyone in that category this year. But of those selected after Nikola Jovic (who I think can turn into an inspired choice), I do believe that Patrick Baldwin’s skillset could still yield something special and was curious about E.J. Liddell as a Heat fit. But I don’t believe there is a reason for second guessing when you’re talking about No. 27.

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