On Wednesday, the State Senate honored one of America’s heroes, Colonel Perry Bill Woolridge. Sen. Earl Garrison, Woolridge’s nephew, authored Senate Resolution 58 commending the Oklahoman’s military career which spanned five decades and included service in both the U.S. Army and the Oklahoma National Guard.
“When you grow up in rural Oklahoma, you don’t have a lot of role models, but he was my role model and hero,” said Garrison, D-Muskogee. “He is a great man and an outstanding American, and I’m so privileged that I have the opportunity to get to honor him in the state Senate.”
Woolridge was touched by the special recognition saying it was one of the highlights of his life.
“I want to express my deepest appreciation for what Sen. Garrison has done today. I really appreciate this. It’s a great honor to me and my family,” said Col. Woolridge. “Today will be one of the highlights of my life, and I salute you from the bottom of my heart.”
Born in Roff, Oklahoma in 1918, Woolridge graduated from Chilocco Indian School in 1938.
He joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard while still in high school and remained in it until his retirement in 1978. He was mobilized with the 45th Infantry Division when it was ordered into active federal service. During World War II, he participated in four amphibious landings and eight major campaigns.
In 1945, Woolridge worked with the Veterans Administration and then joined the Oklahoma Military Department in 1946. He served as a personnel officer until 1961 when he became Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Military Department. In his last assignment as Chief of the Military Support to Civil Authorities Section, he prepared and maintained plans for providing military assistance to civil authorities during emergency situations.
He began his military career as a Private and retired as a Colonel. During his career he graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. While at the Army War College, Col. Woolridge authored “An Analysis of the Selected Reserve Forces Systems”, a study that made recommendations on how to enable Army National Guard units to achieve and maintain an enduring high level of readiness.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Norman Lamb surprised Woolridge with a special proclamation from Governor Brad Henry declaring May 20, 2009 as “Colonel Perry Woolridge Day” in the state.
“Every November, we celebrate Thanksgiving and that’s when we Americans give thanks to the good Lord for the things we have. Each Memorial Day, we observe Memorial Day to say thank you to those people who have fought for us to keep those things that the good Lord has given us,” said Lamb. “Our real American heroes are not from the NFL, the NBA or the Major Leagues and certainly not from Hollywood. Today, you and I are privileged to say thank you to a real Ameriacan hero, One of Oklahoma’s very own.”
Woolridge received many awards during his career including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal, European-African-Middle eastern Campaign Medal and eight campaign stars and arrowheads for amphibious assault landings, World War II Victory Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device, Combat Infantryman Badge, Oklahoma Meritorious Service Medal, and the Oklahoma Long Service Medal. He also received a commendation by the Commanding General, 45th Infantry Division, on August 20, 1947, for outstanding service as Personnel Officer, 279th Infantry.
He is affiliated with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, Military Order of World Wars, National Guard Association of the United States, 45th Infantry Division Association, U.S. Civil Defense Council, Oklahoma Civil Defense Directors Association, and the Oklahoma Military Historical Commission.