Born on 9 December, 1947 in Osage City, Kansas, John D. Woodyard graduated from Osage City High School in 1965 and joined the Marines in 1967, serving as an Infantryman in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1973. He then joined the Army in 1974, completing Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Six months into his Army career, his Platoon Leader, 1LT Dennis Sheridan wrote this about him, "Woodyard is one of the most outstanding young soldiers I've ever served with; I wish I had a hundred like him." Woodyard then remained at Fort Sill until 1977, serving as Instructor Apprentice and then Instructor at the US Army Field Artillery School. He next served in Germany until 1980 as Field Artillery Assembler and Team Chief, 5th Artillery Detachment. Returning to the United States, he completed the Nuclear Weapons Specialist Course at the Ordnance Missile and Munitions Center and School (OMMCS), Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and stayed on at OMMCS as a Chief Instructor in the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) Division.
In 1983 Woodyard returned to Germany to serve as Operations Sergeant and then First Sergeant of the 64th Ordnance Company. He next served, from 1987 to 1988, as First Sergeant of the 27th US Army Field Artillery Detachment in Turkey. In a letter written to his commander when first assigned in Turkey, concerning his expectations of his new job, "The most important thing I can do as First Sergeant is to set a good example. I work very hard to maintain high standards of fitness, training, appearance and courtesy. I love the Army life and hope to instill that enthusiasm in the soldiers of the 27th. I will insure that my morals and integrity remain unquestionable. My ambition in life is to serve my God, my Country and my family to the best of my ability. If I accomplish that, my Soldiers will have a good example."
He then returned to the Ordnance Missile and Munitions Center and School from 1988 to 1990 to serve as First Sergeant of the 155th Ordnance Company (GS/DS), attached to the 73d Ordnance Battalion, providing special ammunition support. He was then off to Korea to assume duties as a First Sergeant in the 6th Ordnance Battalion, responsible for all US ammunition in Korea.
In 1989, Woodyard was selected for Sergeant Major and attended the Sergeants Major Academy in 1990. Woodyard returned to Germany in 1992 as the Command Sergeant Major of the 84th Ordnance Battalion in Muenchweiler, which provided conventional ammunition support to VII Corps. Known for his skills as a mentor, he wrote a perceptive article on officer- noncommissioned officer relationships entitled, "My LT and Me," published in the NCO Journal in 1993 and reprinted several times since.
Woodyard helped stand down the 84th Ordnance Battalion, which deactivated in 1993. He then assumed duties as Command Sergeant Major of the 15th Ordnance Battalion in Darmstadt, Germany, operating 19 ammunition storage sites in support of V Corps. On 14 July 1993, while traveling to visit one of his Soldiers in the hospital, CSM Woodyard was killed in a traffic accident in Frankfurt, Germany. After his death, his battalion commander discovered that Woodyard had been corresponding with 30 noncommissioned officers who had served with him in previous assignments and were seeking his advice and support. CSM John D. Woodyard had faithfully served the Army and his Soldiers for almost 19 years at the time of his death.