Home Shipmates Rest Your Oars Reginald C. Underwood
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Capt. Reginald C. Underwood, USMC





Call Sign: Woody Died: Feb. 27, 1991

Underwood died on the final day of the Persian Gulf War when his AV-8B was hit by a heat-seeking Iraqi surface-to-air missile. He left a 5-month-old daughter he had never met.

"He said he would fly even if he was not paid for it," said his widow, Donda Hill Rhodes. "It was his passion. The Harrier was a challenge and you could not fly it unless you were at the top of your class."

Underwood grew up in Lexington, Ky., and had flown since he was a teenager. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and then joined the Marine Corps. His squadron went to war and he flew nine combat missions before his final one.

On that day, he was flying in formation with three other planes after taking off from the amphibious assault ship Nassau. The mission's target was a convoy of military vehicles traveling north toward Basra. The pilots decided to fly beneath cloud cover at about 8,000 feet to get a clear view, making their Harriers easier targets.

When the missile hit, the commanding officer of Underwood's squadron was flying 1,000 feet away. In retrospect, says Lt. Col. Jerry W. Fitzgerald, it was a mistake to be flying so low. The plane crashed in a huge fireball. Underwood's body was later found in the wreckage of the plane just inside Iraq.

Underwood was 33.

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