MM2c Ardenne Allen Woodward
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MM2c Ardenne Allen Woodward
Ardenne Allen Woodward was born June 9, 1921 in Aquia, Virginia, an unincorporated community on the west bank of the Potomac River about 20 miles downstream from Mount Vernon. His mother, Georgia Raines Woodward, was a homemaker and his father, William A. Woodward, a farmer.
An older son was also named William and called Billy, yet Ardenne was known to friends and family as Bill.
The family moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1936. Bill enlisted in the Navy on July 11, 1938.
He was a machinist’s mate and petty officer second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Woodward was survived by his widow, Virginia Greenwood Woodward, and their four-month-old daughter, Karen. Father and daughter never met.
Mr. Woodward wrote many letters to his “precious darling wife” in Huntington Beach, California, and 10 were published years later in the book “Battleship Arizona: An Illustrated History” by Paul Stillwell.
One letter, in particular, dated “July 29, 1941, Somewhere at sea,” gave insight to the job of a machinist’s mate. “Honey it is really hot out in this ungodly hole now. 122 degrees at all times down in the Pump House. The Dr. makes us take salt tablets once every hour to keep us from getting sick from perspiring. The only thing any of us wear down there is a pair of shoes and a pair of under pants. And they’re soaking wet by the time you have been there five minutes.”
A memorial plaque to Huntington Beach’s war dead failed to include Mr. Woodward’s name until 2015. About a year earlier the city historian, Jerry Person, came across an old magazine article that mentioned Mr. Woodward and Huntington Beach. He began to research the local sailor and soon was aided by City Councilman Dave Sullivan, who tracked down the daughter, Karen Woodward Richardson, by then living less than an hour away. Her mother died in 2004.
On June 9, 2015 — what would have been Mr. Woodward’s 94th birthday — the city unveiled the addition of his name to the memorial plaque. His daughter and great-grandchildren attended, and some of his letters were read aloud by local high-school students.
Mr. Woodward’s name is also inscribed on the tombstone of his parents at Maury Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
Sources: the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch; the Orange County (California) Register; “Battleship Arizona, An Illustrated History” by Paul Stillwell; Navy muster roll; Census; Virginia birth record; gravemarker. The photo is at the Arizona State Archive courtesy of his daughter. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.