Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Michael Richard Woodliff

Port Charlotte, Florida

March 2, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
22 Army Sgt

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Division

Friedberg, Germany

Died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device struck his convoy.

Sgt. Michael R Woodliff clowns with a picture of fallen dictator Saddam Hussein. (Photo courtesy of Janine Woodliff)

Spc. Michael R. Woodliff was determined to join the military, despite his mother''s objections. "You''re going into the service over my dead body," Janine Woodliff recalled telling her son. But Michael Woodliff refused to give in, tricking his parents into signing a waiver the summer after his junior year in high school, his mother said. "Mike _ he was gung-ho. ... I couldn''t believe his bravery," Steven Woodliff said of his brother. "He was a class act, many times over." The 22-year-old mortar specialist from Port Charlotte, Fla., was killed March 2 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was based in Friedberg, Germany. The soldier had reported back to his family that he had narrowly avoided death several times in Iraq. In one instance a suicide bomber''s detonator malfunctioned as the bomber ran toward him. "He said it was the longest second he ever had," said his brother Andrew. "He and his guys never talked about it again." Michael Woodliff had plans to marry in February 2005. "We wanted to get married so bad and loved each other so much," said Crystal Steward. "I don''t know how anyone is going to measure up to him." Survivors include his father, Lee Woodliff.
From The Chicago Tribune chicagotribune.com 03/12/04:

Wrestling move will become a tradition
March 12, 2004|By Nikki Usher, Tribune staff reporter.

Spec. Michael R. Woodliff loved wrestling for Florida's Charlotte High School so much that his former coach plans to christen a wrestling move "The Woodliff" and start a coaching award in his honor.

"He wasn't the most technically sound wrestler. But he loved the sport," said his mother, Janine. "But this will be a tradition for years to come that will honor people who were strong and dedicated to the team, like Mike."

Woodliff, 22, of Port Charlotte, Fla., died March 2 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. Woodliff was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Division in Friedberg, Germany, according to the Department of Defense.

He was the third generation of his family to join the military. His father, Lee, is a sergeant who served in Operation Desert Storm. His grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. His older brother, Steven, 23, is also in the Navy.

Woodliff was so eager to join the Army that he tricked his mother into signing enlistment papers when he was 17. "She thought she was signing some sort of physical form," Steven Woodliff said.

Family members recalled Woodliff's determination and maturity. Throughout high school, he struggled to complete his work because of his learning disabilities, but he remained an active participant in ROTC and the band, his mother said.

As a freshman in high school, he knew he would not be able to remain on the team with his grades, so he told the coach without being prompted by his parents or other school officials.

"That Mike could do something like that shows just how mature he always was," his older brother said.

Woodliff entered the Army straight out of high school and moved to a base in Germany, where the family had lived when he was younger.

The close-knit family had recently helped Woodliff propose to his fiance, Crystal Seward. They selected the ring in the United States and sent it to him to present to her when she came to visit him in Germany.

Woodliff proposed to her outside a palace in Schwetzingen, Germany, and showed her where he had left cement handprints from his childhood.

"Mike had his roots. And he left his mark, not just there but also with everyone who he used to make smile," his mother said. Woodliff was posthumously promoted to E5 sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Homecoming King: Pfc. Matthew G. Milczark, 18, of Kettle River, Minn., a well-liked student and excellent athlete, had been voted homecoming king in June at Mooselake High School. When he came home on leave last fall, he crowned the new homecoming king, said his stepmother, Linda.


Milczark had served as a marine in Iraq for only three weeks when he was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. "We don't know what happened," his stepmother said.

The Department of Defense classified the March 8 death as a "non-combat related incident" at Camp Victory in Kuwait. Milczark was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, Calif.

His family had a big graduation party for him to celebrate his completion of basic training and of high school before his deployment. At basic training in San Diego, Milczark was honored as the best marksman in his platoon.

Friends and family remember Milczark as a caring, athletic and handsome young man. In high school, he played football, hockey and baseball.

Sherman Liimatainen, his hockey coach for 10 years, said Milczark led by example.
Spc. Michael R. Woodliff was determined to join the military, despite his mother’s objections.

“You’re going into the service over my dead body,” Janine Woodliff recalled telling her son. But Michael Woodliff refused to give in, tricking his parents into signing a waiver the summer after his junior year in high school, his mother said.

“Mike — he was gung-ho. I couldn’t believe his bravery,” Steven Woodliff said of his brother. “He was a class act, many times over.”

The 22-year-old mortar specialist from Port Charlotte, Fla., was killed March 2 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was based in Friedberg, Germany.

The soldier had reported back to his family that he had narrowly avoided death several times in Iraq. In one instance a suicide bomber’s detonator malfunctioned as the bomber ran toward him. “He said it was the longest second he ever had,” said his brother Andrew. “He and his guys never talked about it again.”

Michael Woodliff had plans to marry in February 2005. “We wanted to get married so bad and loved each other so much,” said Crystal Steward. “I don’t know how anyone is going to measure up to him.”

Survivors include his father, Lee Woodliff.

— Associated Press

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