My father, Captain Leighton Wood, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in the class of 1915 and was the first commanding officer of the USS Montpelier (CL-57). Dad was also my hero.
I had great admiration for my father and wanted very much to follow in his footsteps. So when I was in high school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I worked hard enough to win a senatorial appointment to Annapolis in 1937. When I took the vision test at the Philadelphia Naval Dispensary, however, my eyes weren't up to the standards that the Navy demanded at that time. Instead of the Academy, I went off to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where my family had roots.
As time went on and things began to heat up in the Pacific, the Navy reduced its physical standards somewhat, and suddenly I was an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After a short course in naval indoctrination and some training and temporary duty, I was assigned to MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) Squadron 6—specifically executive officer of PT-124.