Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Peter Woodall killed 'while conducting combat operations'

SARASOTA -- Sgt. Peter Woodall was the stereotypical Marine.

The 25-year-old with broad shoulders and a buzz cut had the look, even in high school.

He was a Marine "110 percent of the time," said his best friend from high school, Wes Boland.

Woodall died April 27 in Anbar province of Iraq, the Department of Defense said Monday. The military would not release details of Woodall's death, but his stepfather, Richard Woodall, said he was placing a TNT disruption charge on an improvised explosive device when it exploded.

He was married. He and his wife Joanna had a 3-year-old son, Jacob.

He enlisted in 2000 after graduating from high school.

Woodall's desire to serve in the military started with JROTC at Riverview High School, and the decorated Marine's career ended last week during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Woodall was assigned to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

"We're proud of him," his mother, Elizabeth Wloka Woodall, said Monday. With red cheeks and tears streaming down under her sunglasses, she said she was too upset to talk further.

"It's too much," she said after embracing Boland as he arrived Monday and stood in the driveway of the family's home, the same place where Peter Woodall said goodbye to his best friend before he left for his second tour of duty.

"When I heard the news, it hit me like a ton of bricks," Boland said.

He described Woodall, whom his friends from high school knew by his father's last name of Wloka, as a loyal friend and a dedicated family man.

But first, he was a Marine.

After his first tour in Iraq, Woodall briefly considered getting a discharge from the Marines and going into another line of service: policing.

But instead of joining the Florida Highway Patrol as he had mentioned, the native of Poland re-enlisted, and was deployed earlier this year.

"He knew there was a job over there to do," Boland said.

During his six years in the Marine Corps, Woodall earned nine decorations, including the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Marine Corps spokesman said.

Woodall moved to Chicago from Poland when he was 8, and his family moved to Florida when he was 13.

He held a part-time job in high school at the Sugar & Spice Family Restaurant on Cattlemen Road before going to work with Boland at the Sports Authority.

The teens would talk about cars and go paintball gunning.

Woodall married Joanna, also a native of Poland, four years ago in California. She could not be reached in North Carolina on Monday.

Peter Woodall's younger sister Katie Wloka is a student at the Sarasota Military Academy. He also has a 13-year-old stepbrother.

His family said he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery Virginia.

From the Herald Tribune