Woodrow “Woody” Trygve Shaffer


Woodrow “Woody” Trygve Shaffer passed away August 30, 2011, in Seattle. He was born in Des Lacs, North Dakota on March 4, 1917 to Melvin Shaffer and Karen Bredesen Shaffer.

Woody joined the Navy and was assigned to the PBY Air squadron in the Philippine Islands when WWII broke out. Woody was quoted as being “one of the strongest men I have ever had the opportunity to meet,” by author, and fellow prisoner of war W. Pat Hitchcock. Woody was captured at Fort Hughes by Japanese invading forces in May of 1942. After which the Japanese army transferred Woody and the other American POWs to Manila. From Manila they were
transported by train to Cabanatuan, then marched 25 miles to the concentration camp. Woody remained imprisoned in POW camp #3 for a little over two years.

In July of 1944 Woody was transported along with 1600 other POWs to Oeyama Prison camp, in Japan, by the prison ship Nysio Maru. During his time at Oeyama Woody was forced to work at the Oeyama Nickel Mine. While at this camp Woody observed many cruelties, beatings and torture to fellow prisoners, and endured torture to himself. Woody remained a prisoner of war until he was liberated by U.S. troops on September 10, 1945. Upon his release Woody testified at the trials of his former captors and described in detail the “bamboo torture” he was subjected to. Woody retired from the US Navy on August 1, 1960 after 20 years of distinguished service.

During his Naval career he was awarded the Army Distinguished Unit Badge with Oak Leaf Cluster for service in defense of the Philippines and a Presidential Unit Citation from President Truman for service and participation with Patrol Squadron 101 for “extraordinary heroism in action, operating against enemy Japanese forces in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies Areas from December 8, 1941 to March 3, 1942.” He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in action and a bronze star for bravery.

Upon retiring from the Navy, Woody began a 20 plus year career at the US Postal Service. Woody’s hobbies included camping, fishing, gardening, and cooking.

Survived by his wife of 20 years, Sonja sisters; Genevieve (Jim) McCutcheon, Wanda (Pat) Miracle, Joyce (Bob) Warden, Janet (Bob) Newbry, stepson James Todd, step grandson Pat Goodman, and his beloved cat Kits. Also survived by many nephews, nieces, cousins, sister-in-law Liz Thylin, special friends Al, Dottie, Michelle and Teresa Cummings, Tobi Deputy, Patty Wade,, and special friend and “driver” Halley McQueen.

Preceded in death, by Parents Melvin and Karen Shaffer, brothers: Chet, Kenneth, and Russell, sister Marlene, first wife, Lois Shaffer, and brothers-in-law Jim McCutcheon, George Zewe, and Herb Thylin

In Lieu of Flowers please send donations to the US Navy Memorial Foundation or charity of your choice.

Memorial service to be held at the 125th St. Grill in Seattle on September 17, 2011 at 1:00.

Internment will take place September 19, 2011 at Tahoma National Cemetery

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