William Rice Obituary, Death – On Sunday, November 27, 2022, William Elwood Rice was spending time with his family when he passed away and received his angel wings. He was the oldest child of Phostell and Ethelene Wakefield Rice, both of whom have passed away, and was born on December 4, 1923 in Media, Pennsylvania. The Nether Providence School District in Delaware County was where Woody received his formal education. He was a member of the graduating class of 1943 from Nether Providence High School as well as the National Honor Society. When he was a child, he was awarded a number of diplomas for perfect attendance.
When Woody was a child, he lived in Nether Providence, and whenever he looked up, he could see Navy dirigibles and warplanes flying overhead. These sights inspired him to pursue a career in aviation. In order to achieve one of his lifelong goals and become a pilot, he joined the Army Air Corps during his final year of high school and enlisted in the military. After finishing his initial training at the Keesler Army Airbase in Mississippi, he was transferred to the Tuskegee Institute so that he could complete his preflight training there.
Because he did not have the two years of college experience that was required for entry to the program, he had to finish a unique curriculum that was offered by the Institute. This allowed him to pass the written exam and become eligible for main flight training. 1944 was the year he was awarded his wings. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators to serve in the United States Armed Forces. They were a part of the United States Air Force.
During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen achieved a great deal of success and acclaim. They were tasked with escorting heavy bombers deep within the territory of the adversary. After finishing his preparation for battle, Woody, along with the other members of the 332nd Fighter Group, was shipped off to Italy in January of 1945. In a P51 fighter plane, he completed 34 combat missions.
In 1946, Woody was given his honorable discharge from the Army with the rank of First Lieutenant, and he subsequently moved back to Delaware County to find work and start a family. After a brief stint with the Pennsylvania Railroad, he started working for the Helicopter Division of the Boeing Company in the year 1952. After 41 years of dedicated work, he took his retirement from Boeing in 1993.