Neshoba County native Will Woods, second from left, and three other Purple Heart recipients were recognized at halftime of the MSU-Alabama game by MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum. Woods was wounded in Korea in 1952. From left are Charles Sciple, wounded in Germany in 1944 and Korea in 1951; Woods; Keenum; Dennis Daniels, wounded in Iraq in 2005; and  Bill Henry, wounded in Vietnam in 1968.
Neshoba County native Will Woods, second from left, and three other Purple Heart recipients were recognized at halftime of the MSU-Alabama game by MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum. Woods was wounded in Korea in 1952. From left are Charles Sciple, wounded in Germany in 1944 and Korea in 1951; Woods; Keenum; Dennis Daniels, wounded in Iraq in 2005; and Bill Henry, wounded in Vietnam in 1968.
Neshoba County native Will Woods and three other Purple Heart recipients were recognized at halftime of the MSU-Alabama game by MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum.

Woods, 84, represented those who served in Korea. He said it was an honor to stand in front of the 62,435 fans in attendance. The crowd was quiet while Woods was honored along with the other Purple Heart recipients from various wars and conflicts, but the cowbells and yells quickly resumed in response to their service.

"I couldn't hear much," Woods said of the experience.

Woods joined the National Guard after he graduated from East Neshoba High School in 1948, shortly after Forestdale and Shady Grove schools combined. He was looking for a way to pay for college and was drafted in the Army and sent to Korea in 1951.

Woods was a driver for a tank battalion commander for about 10 months.

He came under fire in April of 1952 when he was taking passengers out to some tanks.

"We were driving out in the open when they started shooting at us," Woods said.

After he dropped his passenger off, he and another driver were pinned up against a tank by mortar fire.

"We let the riders out and mortars were dropping behind us, but one fell short and some shrapnel caught us on the ricochet," he said.

The mortar shrapnel hit the other driver in the hip and Woods in the face.

"I was fine, but I was sprinkled pretty good," Woods said. "It caught the other boy in the hip. I never saw him again, though I didn't know him too well. I didn't even know where he was from."

After about four years of service, including his time in the National Guard, Woods was discharged in August of 1952.

"That was enough," he said.

Afterwards, Woods worked a few jobs in Jackson before moving back home to take care of his father who lost a leg in 1955. He took care of his father until he died in 1960.

Woods stayed in Neshoba County with his wife Elizabeth "Betty" Woods, also of Philadelphia, where he worked on a farm and drove a milk truck, while taking care of his mother until she died in the 1990s. His wife died in 2014.

Woods' son, Casey, owner of Brandi's Blues Café with his wife, Brandi, and "a big State fan," said he could not make the game because the restaurant was open, but he thought it was "real awesome" that they chose to recognize his father.

"I talked to some of the guys that went and they said it was awesome," Casey Woods said.

He said his dad roots for all the Mississippi teams, but usually picks MSU when they play each other.

Woods is a true patriarch of his family and takes care of his granddaughter, Kassie, and great-granddaughter, Kloe, who live with him. He enjoys visiting family including his grandsons Garrett and Drew. He attends Sandtown United Methodist Church.

Casey Woods said his father has been a strong figure in his life.

"He is dedicated, a strong believer in God and always has been since I've known him," he said. "Most of all he loves his country and he fought for it."