Soldier killed in crash had area ties


Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 12:17 a.m.

ST. AUGUSTINE - A Special Forces and emergency room doctor from southwest Florida, who gave up his officer's status to go with his unit, died Friday in a vehicle crash in Afghanistan, Florida National Guard officials said.

Sgt. Roy Alvin Wood, 47, of Alva, accepted a demotion from major to sergeant so he could go with his unit, Company C of the 20th Special Forces Group, when it deployed in July.

Wood was a graduate of Dixie County High School in Cross City.

Wood is the first soldier from the Florida National Guard to die in Afghanistan, said Maj. Ron Tittle, a National Guard spokesman.

"There are no words to described the loss we have experienced," Wood's family said in a statement. He is survived by his wife, Hana, and a 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

"He believed in what the United States was doing in Afghanistan. So much in fact that on his own time he helped build a clinic in Afghanistan for people he would never meet. He was that type of person - he cared," the statement said.

Wood received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve and was first assigned to the Army Reserve's 421st Quartermaster Company, based in Fort Valley, Ga.

Most of Wood's career involved special operations, including command of various companies and detachments. He joined the Florida Army National Guard in April 2001 and served as surgeon with the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group until 2002. Wood resigned his rank of major in December 2002 to become a medical sergeant beginning in 2003 until July when his unit deployed. He was offered a position to deploy as a major when his unit was called to active duty but chose to deploy as a sergeant so he could be in an operational unit.

Wood left his civilian career as an emergency physician with Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where he had worked since March 2000. Wood received a bachelor's degree in biology from Mercer University and graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine. He completed his medical internship at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital and his residency at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was board certified as an emergency medical physician by the American Board of Emergency Physicians.

Wood's military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Achievement Medal with silver hour glass device, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Basic Airborne Badge, Parachute Rigger Badge, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab and Joint Meritorious Unit Emblem.

A memorial service will probably take place sometime next week in Milledgeville, Ga., Tittle said.

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