As a member and affiliate of the 28th Division for more than sixty years, I’ve read with interest “The Example of Private Slovik” (September/October).
The author accents the inexperience of members of the general court-martial who tried Private Slovik for desertion. Certainly the author is the best judge of his own qualifications for that duty. However, since all U.S. military officers are deemed competent to serve on courts-martial, and since that court had been serving for some months, a 1987 judgment on others who served in 1944 seems questionable, to say the least.
The article mentions the apparent youth and legal inexperience of Capt. Edward P. Woods, appointed defense counsel to the 28th Infantry Division court-martial by Norman D. Cota, the commanding general of the division, in August 1944. Captain Woods and most members of the court continued to serve through a score or more of cases. Obviously they met the high standards of General Cota, a leader of competence and great gallantry. Captain Woods served under my command as a lieutenant in the newly formed 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop throughout most of 1942. His performance in a variety of duties exceeded all the standards of excellence demanded from members of that elite organization. I’m certain that he did not discard these military qualities when he was appointed defense counsel.