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I am the younger brother of Ron Swingler who posted an earlier entry. I too grew up down the alley from Travis during the 80’s. Of course, he was much older than I, but he was still a big part of my childhood. He was the exciting guy who lived down the street. The kind of guy you read about in stories. He wasn’t like everyone else and that is why he was so exciting. My friend Eric and I were always tinkering with things and he was the tinkerer king. Who else had an infrared sensor in his yard to detect when people entered the property? Who else had a robot hand out candy on Halloween? Who else had a double story workshop in their backyard that was half the size of their house filled with gadgets!
Of all the memories I have, one stands out the most. It was when Travis gave my friend Eric and I a tour of his workshop. He showed us all sorts of electronic gadgets. He showed us a hang glider. He showed us an entry to a bomb shelter under the workshop and warned us that if WW3 were to occur, that we couldn’t tell anyone about it! But, the one thing he showed us that was cooler than everything else was a go kart he made with his dad when he was a small boy. My friend Eric and I were so excited about it that he gave it to us! He even spent a couple hours with us pushing us down a sidewalk at an old church down the street from where we grew up. After a few weeks, Eric and I had installed an engine and new wheels and could be found zipping around the neighborhood. We loved that go kart! I always imagined Travis riding around on it when he was a young boy. When the iron frame gave out on us, Travis even broke out an old welder and fixed it for us. He was one of the kindest guys we knew. When most adults yelled at us to go away, he invited us in and created an adventure.
During the 90’s, I would drive by his house and wonder where he was. I always figured he was somewhere continuing to create incredible things. The kind of things you only see in movies or read about in books. Even in the last 10 years, after graduating from ASU with a EE degree in 1999, I continued to wonder about Travis. After reading his obituary, I now know about some of the incredible things he has done. I wish I could have talked to him again. I wish I could have met his wonderful family. I wish he could have met my wife and child. I wish I could have helped create gadgets with him. I wish I could have let him know about how he was such a wonderful part of my childhood. I will never forget Travis Wood. I’m sure he is in heaven right now creating a gadget with God. He’s probably showing God a thing or two :)
Joe Swingler, Tucson AZ
I have a couple childhood memories of Travis in which I would like to share. He was 6 years older than I was, and the way I actually remember him is looking up and seeing a tall skinny teenager with long blonde hair. He always had a smile on his face and of course, I will never forget his signature laugh. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona on Highland Street and I lived a couple houses down the alley on Wolf Street. I was one of the kids, mentioned in his obituary, where he ran wire from his house to ours. There were speakers on both ends and a microphone on his side. He would talk to us at night and we could hear him loud and clear. But, the only way we could talk to him was by shouting into the speaker. I was amazed that it worked! He could actually hear us!
Being the prankster, he told us stories of a mother in the neighborhood with a glass eye. He would tell us that she would pop her eye out and place it on a window sill at night so she could look through the window. Well after telling us that story, my sister and I were petrified to go to bed. We kept thinking there was an eye looking through our window. We actually built up enough courage one night to look through the window. As we peeked through the crack of the curtains, sure enough there was an eye looking straight at us! We jumped 10 feet and ran out of our room like there was no tomorrow! My dad went to look out on the window sill and there it was, an eye ball. Fortunately, it was only a ping pong ball painted to look like one. I can remember when Travis found out how we reacted and he could not stop laughing!
Me and my best friend Chuck Hann, my neighbor at the time, were involved in what Travis created and called “Friends Films”. He would use an 8mm video camera to create movies where we would move along without walking, almost as if we had hidden wheels under our feet. We would also disappear in a flash and then reappear. He created these films by tediously clicking the on and off button on the camera within seconds. We would then move and he would click on and off again. It took hours to make these films, but when they were done I was impressed! For being the 70’s, it was definitely high tech at the time, especially for a young kid like Travis to produce. To this day, I wish I had a copy of some of them. With good fortune, I just talked to Chuck and he said he just converted some of them to DVD. Maybe we can publish some of them on the web to show how creative he was at such a young age.
I did see Travis one last time in the early 90’s when I was in college earning my EE degree at Arizona State University. We were both in the same dynamics class together. But, I will always remember Travis when I was a kid. Him in his ham shack with a twenty foot antenna. Or creating some kind of electronic gadget, playing with strobe lights, etc. I could go on and on. There were many memories and I will cherish them. He played a big part in my childhood and I will not forget him.
My sincere condolences go out to the Wood family, especially Katherine, Garrick, and Veronica in which unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet. My prayers are with you all.
A childhood friend
Shortly after Travis began working here at China Lake, he and I traveled to Ft. Walton Beach, FL for a management review of the Tactical Combat Training System program of which his project was one of the key subsystems. It happened to coincide with spring break and the hotel was filled with college students. I was staying at one end of the complex and Travis was at the other. At breakfast the next morning I asked how he had slept and he said "well there were kids running up and down the hall all night long and then one of them pulled the fire alarm right outside my door". In typical Travis fashion, he not only found it amusing but he was interactive and alert during the entire lengthy meeting. I miss him very much.
I was Travis' supervisor when he passed away.
I walked in to Travis' cube to gather his things.
On one side, computer books.
On the other, pictures of his family.
No "I love me" wall.
To me, that says it all.
I'll miss working with him,
and I'll miss his friendship even more.
Head, Combat Environment Software Branch
China Lake, CA 93555
My story is an example of Travis’ enthusiasm about technology.
I am an Amateur Radio operator
and Travis worked with me at NASA Dryden. As I got to know Travis
I found out that anything technology related interested him and I also
learned that his Dad was a HAM radio operator too. I shared with
Travis one of my favorite HAM activities: Transmitter hunting (kind
of a treasure hunt with radios). I shared the basic premise and
when I saw that he was truly interested I invited him to go with me
on our next T-hunt. This hunt was a shared event, our Antelope
Valley group and the Palos Verde group, kind of a Transmitter Hunt on
steroids. The day of the hunt I explained that normally someone
would hide a transmitter that transmitted every few minutes for about
a minute. I then explained that we had a receiver with a directional
antenna and other geek stuff in the truck. With this equipment and radio
direction finding techniques we would get close with the car and then
when the signal was so strong that it overwhelmed the system in the
truck we would park and find it on foot. I then gave Travis a
hand held radio and directional antenna and a brief tutorial on how
he would use them once we leave the truck on foot. This hunt was
a little different, there would be 15 transmitters not just one.
Travis was jazzed. We went out early to hide the Transmitters
I had made up and then met the others for breakfast in Mojave.
We left the restaurant and
turned on the radio we could here several transmitters. I told Travis
to pick one and we would go find it. It wasn’t long before we
needed to stop and set out on foot. At this point Travis was quite
enthused about it all and before the truck came to a stop he jumped
out with the hand held radio in one hand, and the antenna in the other.
He then spun around on his toes in what could only be described as the
Travis brought this enthusiasm
to what ever he did. From his DARPA challenge (R Junk Works),
to the elaborate Halloween display he and Kathy put together every year.
It was fun to share these things with Travis. I feel privileged to have
known him and honored to call him friend.
We had the pleasure of knowing Garrick's father, Travis through our son's school. Garrick and our son are in the same grade and have been going to school since kindergarten. Our beginning memories of The Wood Family started in August 2005 in kindergarten. I remember every day Travis would come to pick up Garrick from school. He always had Veronica with him. She was a cutie pie. We would see Travis almost every day for the next good 3 years picking Garrick up. He was a very loving, dedicated, wonderful father. there were many times during the early years I thought to myself, how wonderful he has chosen to stay with the kids while they were young. Travis was almost always at Garrick's class parties for school, the field trip to the LA Zoo in 2nd grade, and regularly came for lunch visits when Garrick was in 1st and 2nd grade. Recent memories of Travis have been at both Garrick and Wesley's 9th birthday parties. Wesley always looks forward to the fun boy Mulligan parties Garrick has had the past couple years. You saw the passion Travis had in his eyes for his son Garrick. George and I were just talking about how loving of a family The Woods are. Two years in a row you attended the skating party the four of you. Out of all of the parents, there are only a few parents that ever try skating. This past year at Wesley's 9th birthday, I remember Travis helping Veronica with the Limbo game. She did so well. I remember fondly, him on the skating rink with his shoes on helping her not fall while she was skating. And she did real well with the limbo. Both Travis and Kathy ALWAYS gave skating a try at our party. Not to many parents would even attempt it. I ALWAYS saw the two of them giving there best. it was great. You both were not afraid to have fun and give it a try. When I saw Kathy skating on the floor, I would look over and see Travis on the side with his shoes on helping the kids. Or vice-versa. May your love for each other and your dedication to your children and family be an example to everyone what a true family is. Our family is still in shock and heart broken. It really gives you a prospective on life and how short life really is. We will all miss Travis. We will all miss seeing him at school. Out of all of the fathers in the past 5 years at our school, Travis was always there for Garrick and Veronica. We will miss seeing him in years to come, but will always know he is still there with us in spirit. Our prayers and blessings are with Garrick and his loss of his father. He is a wonderful, creative, very intelligent little boy that still holds lots of innocence in him. May God bless Kathy, Garrick and Veronica. Travis, you will be deeply missed and never forgotten. May your legacy live within the hearts and souls of your two beautiful children.
The Stergious Family
George, Amber and Wes
Thank you for finding a way to let me know about Travis. He and I have not been in touch for a few years now. I have many memories as a kid spending time with him. Being several years younger than him I think I bugged him most of the time. He was always nice to me. We were always trying to figure out ways to connect our houses together with electronic gadgets of one kind or another.
I miss him. My heart goes out to you and your family.
To All of Travis' family and friends,
I had the privilege of working for and with Travis during his time
at China Lake. His personality was a great combination of friendly,
competent, and creative attributes. I was always amazed at his quick
grasp of problems and his inventive solutions. His creativity was one
of the things I most admired about him, although (out of envy?) I would
sometimes tease him by saying his new idea was 'fully baked'. He always
took the teasing with a good humor and would argue persuasively for his
It was with real sadness that I heard of his passing. This is a
great loss for his family and all of his friends. And for all of the
friends he would have made.
I met Travis when I was a technician supporting the MassComp (flutter) computer systems at EAFB. We were both CSC employees at that time. Over the course of the years, I got to ‘know’ Travis. We were never what you’d call ‘close’. Still. I liked Travis immensely. He was one of those people who treated even an acquaintance as if he’d known you forever. I got the impression that he wore his heart on his sleeve, and the openness and friendliness that were on the surface ran all the way through him. He was genuine, didn’t seem as if he hid a thing. I don’t think he knew how. He was one of those people—at least for me—who when I saw him I could not keep from smiling. That’s how I remember him now, with that same smile in my heart. It sounds corny, but knowing guys like Travis make the rest of us better people. My sincerest condolences to you and the family. You are all, including Travis, in my prayers.
I wanted to offer my condolences and tell the family my thoughts,
I only met Travis once, at Becky's birthday party at our home, I had a conversation with Travis and found he was a very genuine, smart person. I find it difficult to connect with people sometimes especially being deeply enthralled in technology based topics as I am, but I found he was very knowledgeable in every subject I was talking about, and I understood what he was talking about, so we kinda clicked :-)
I know he was a very loving father and husband, and my thoughts are with all of you that knew and loved Travis, as a friend, a husband, and a father, a son.
I have not lost many people that I knew or were close to in my lifetime, but the loss of losing someone I have only met once as hit me harder than I thought possible, I guess you just know when a person is a great person. I know that every time I meet someone that gives me a blank stare when I talk about what is passionate to me, I will think of Travis doing the opposite. He truly was a great person, I know this to be true.