Samuel Woodfill

Historical Marker #990 at Samuel Woodfill Elementary School in Fort Thomas commemorates that military hero's long and distinguished career in the United States Army.

Samuel Woodfill was born in Jefferson County, Indiana, in 1883. His father was a Mexican-American War and Civil War veteran. Woodfill, like other rural boys of his time, spent much of his youth hunting and exploring the fields and forests near his home. When the underage Woodfill attempted to enlist for the Spanish-American War he was rejected for being too young.

In 1901, Woodfill was finally allowed to enlist and was sent to the Philippines soon thereafter. He was stationed briefly in Alaska before he was sent to the post at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He stayed in the Bluegrass State for two years until he was deployed to the Mexican border to defend Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Upon his return to Fort Thomas in 1917, Woodfill married Lorena Wiltshire. He was promoted to lieutenant that same year.

As part of the American Expeditionary Force, Woodfill was sent to Europe as the fighting of World War I intensified. During a scouting mission, the newly-promoted lieutenant encountered a group of German soldiers firing a machine gun. Sneaking up on the party, he ambushed and killed the enemy troops. As Woodfill continued to move across enemy lines he encountered two more bands of German soldiers armed with machine guns. The lieutenant attacked and killed more than a dozen enemy fighters. After he was safely across friendly lines, Woodfill was treated for injuries sustained by mustard gas. For his heroism, Woodfill was awarded the Medal of Honor, as well as a number of other military awards.

Woodfill retired from the service in 1923 as a master sergeant and began farming in Indiana. Woodfill's pension proved inadequate to pay his expenses and his wife petitioned for an increase. The increase was denied by Congress. Despite General Pershing's claims that Samuel Woodfill was the most outstanding soldier of World War One, the hero died penniless and alone in his home in Indiana in 1951. Buried initially in Indiana, Woodfill was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery in 1955.