Deane Woods was born in 1936 in Marley, Idaho, and grew up on a farm in Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 1957, and served as a yeoman at NAS Los Alamitos, California, until being accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in April 1958. After completing flight training, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and designated a Naval Aviator in June 1959, followed by service as an AD-5W Skyraider pilot with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 11 (VAW-11) at NAS North Island, California, from June 1959 until he left active duty on July 28, 1962. Lt Woods served with VR-881 in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Olathe, Kansas, and at the same time completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Kansas, returning to active duty in the Navy on August 2, 1965. He completed A-1 Skyraider Replacement Air Group training with VA-122 at NAS Lemoore, California, and then joined VA-25 at NAS Lemoore in November 1965. Lt Woods deployed with his squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) in July 1966, and was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on October 12, 1966. After spending 2,336 days in captivity, LCDR Woods was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries, and then served with VT-21 at NAS Kingsville, Texas, from August 1973 to January 1974, before attending the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, from February 1974 to March 1976. CDR Woods' final assignment was on the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, from March 1976 until his retirement from the Navy on June 1, 1980.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action on 12 and 13 October 1966, while serving as pilot of a propeller-driven aircraft with Attack Squadron TWENTY-FIVE, embarked in USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43), during combat operations in Southeast Asia. While flying an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam on 12 October, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant) Woods was forced to bail out of his burning aircraft which had received a direct hit from enemy antiaircraft artillery. Contact was established that afternoon, but efforts to rescue him were hampered by the dense jungle cover and the many enemy ground forces in the area. When a helicopter pickup was attempted, Lieutenant Commander Woods directed the helicopter to clear the area because of ground fire. The next day, search and rescue aircraft located him for a second time and called in a helicopter to effect the rescue. As the helicopter approached his position to hover, Lieutenant Commander Woods heard enemy ground forces, in close proximity to his position, directing small-arms fire at the helicopter. Aware that his prime signaling devices were almost exhausted, which greatly diminished the possibility for another rescue attempt, and also aware of the extreme vulnerability of the crew in the hovering helicopter, he chose to terminate the rescue attempt by directing the helicopter to clear the area. Lieutenant Commander Woods voluntarily sacrificed his rescue for the second time in as many days for the safety of the helicopter crew. By his courageous actions in the face of imminent capture, he upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.