By: Tonya Solis-Mosby, volunteer contributor
Can one incident make a lasting impression that would cause you to pledge a lifetime of undying dedication to the American Red Cross?
The answer is a resounding “yes” for Maybelle Woods.
Her story starts when Maybelle, now 91, married Jesse Woods in 1941. “My husband went to Officer Candidates School,” she said as she remembered the days, “and I stayed in Denver.”
|Red Cross employee, Cicely Nelson with Maybelle.|
It was while Mr. Woods was away that she says she became bored and decided to do something with her free time. To fill the void, Mrs. Woods signed up to take a Red Cross First Aid Class. “I didn’t plan to do anything with it,” she said, “I just took the class because I needed something to do.”
Mrs. Woods tucked away her newly learned information and upon the return of her husband, the couple moved to Manchester, N.H., where he worked at Grenier Field.
“Grenier Field was sort of up on a plateau, and we lived in an area below,” she said while making a stair-step motion with her hands. “The homes were below the landing strip of the military base.”
It was this landing strip which led to the event that changed her life forever.
“I was in our house with my 9-month-old daughter,” Mrs. Woods recalled the event. “All of sudden there was this loud crash. It sort of rocked the house. I looked out into the front yard and there it was—a plane crashed right in our front yard.”
Leaving her baby inside, Mrs. Woods rushed outdoors to help the people who were already gathering to aid the pilot who was still in the wreckage.
“As I walked up, I heard someone say, we must get him out,” she said. “So I went to help them get him out. Once he was out, someone said, ‘We should prop his head.’ I yelled, ‘No, don’t prop his head,’” she said. “Here I was, this little 21-year-old yelling at these men, but I remembered that information from my first aid class,” she said as she chuckled.
|Maybelle with the P40 and P47 artist renderings.|
Mrs. Woods, in spite of her age and the possible knowledge of the others who were helping, said they listened to her and didn’t raise the pilot’s head. It wasn’t much longer until the medics arrived, carried the injured man away and explained that everyone had done the proper thing by not raising the man’s head.
She said she returned home to her baby and to this day, doesn’t remember asking someone to care for her baby as she rushed to the aide of the pilot. However, upon her return, her landlord was tending to her baby.
“I just went back into the house and carried on with whatever I was doing before all the excitement,” she said.
She didn’t take a memento from the wreckage nor snap a picture from that fateful day. Mrs. Woods said she had only her memories of that day until one day not so long ago, a friend found out that the plane that crashed in her yard was either a P47 or a P40 and gave her colorful artists renderings of both planes.
Her husband, Ret. Col. Jesse Woods, has since passed on. She now spends her days with her cat, Tiger, but Mrs. Woods said the memories of the day she sprang into action with her Red Cross First Aid training are still quite vivid.
“I was thankful for my Red Cross training that day,” she said, adding that since that time she has shown her gratefulness by making a donation each year to the organization. “Oh, I’ve given to the Red Cross for many years.”
Cicely Nelson, who works in fundraising, helped to quickly straighten out the facts, “She’s been giving to the Red Cross for decades, in fact. Maybelle is a true friend of the Red Cross.”
In fact, it was through Mrs. Woods’ giving and Nelson’s job that the two have become friends.
The chance of a plane crashing in one’s front yard are perhaps not that great, but one never knows when first aid knowledge will be helpful. It is also not known when one might need any of the other services of the Red Cross. But every donor who gives helps make those services available and helps the Red Cross be ready to respond another day.