Clarksville Soldier To Be Buried At Arlington National Cemetery After Being MIA For 50 Years

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods
Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods

Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods of Clarksville. SSG Woods was among eight service members killed in a plane crash on October 24, 1964 and the first Tennessean to be declared missing in action (MIA) leading up to the Vietnam War.

SSG Woods was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group based out of Fort Campbell.  The United States Army staff sergeant was aboard a C-123 Provider aircraft that crashed when it was struck by enemy fire while resupplying the U.S. Special Forces camp at Bu Prang, Vietnam.  Shortly after the crash, U.S. Forces were able to recover the remains of Air Force service members Captain Valmore W. Bourque, First Lieutenant Edward J. Krukowiski, First Lieutenant Robert G. Armstrong, Staff Sergeant Ernest J. Halvorson, Staff Sergeant Theodore B. Phillips, Airman First Class Eugene Richardson and Army Private First Class Charles P. Sparks.  However, search and recovery crews were not able to find SSG Woods’ body. 

Teams from the United States, Cambodia and Vietnam conducted a series of coordinated searches from 1997 to 2010 and excavated the wreckage and recovered SSG Woods’ remains.  Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used forensic and circumstantial evidence to account for SSG Woods.  

“The State of Tennessee pauses to recognize and remember the ultimate sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods, and we hope the upcoming ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery offers the Woods family some peace and solace after these many years,” Governor Haslam said.

“It is bittersweet to welcome Staff Sergeant Woods home to American soil as a hero who served with courage and valor,” Commissioner Grinder said.  “We are grateful his family has finally received the closure of this news and the ability to bury their loved one.”

SSG Woods and his wife Francis L. Woods were raising their three children in Clarksville at the time of his deployment. SSG Woods was 39 years old at the time of the crash.

Lisa Szymanski was only 13 years old when her father was declared missing.  “He was a really good dad with a beautiful sense of humor and I remember he was always helping people,” Ms. Szymanksi said.  “The memories are flooding back as we prepare for this time of closure.”

SSG Woods is survived by his daughter, Lisa C. Szymanski of Fort Myers, Fl., son, Steven R. Woods of Clarksville, daughter, Deborah A. Secriskey of Hermitage, Tn., sister, Rozzellar Biniecki of Hammond, In., sister, Betty Jewel Tucker of Highland, In., sister, Ophelia Willoughby of Huntsville, Al., and brother, William Woods of Dyer, In., as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Governor Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, March 21 in honor of Staff Sergeant Woods’ ultimate sacrifice. SSG Woods will be buried during a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. on March 21.

 


Jen Hatmaker Headed To Scenic City For Luncheon Benefiting On Point

On Point and the Love Wins event committee will celebrate the return of its Love Wins ladies luncheon on Tuesday, May 5, at Stratton Hall, 3146 Broad St.   The inaugural luncheon in 2014 featured New York Times best-selling author and blogger, Glennon Melton. This year’s luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a VIP meet and greet, breakfast and book signing at 9:30 a.m. with ... (click for more)

Altamont Road To Be Closed Wednesday For Water Company Project

Tennessee American Water Company will be relocating a fire hydrant on Altamont Road, between Hixson Pike and Crestwood Drive, necessitating the closure of Altamont Road at this location. Hours of operation will be  8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.  on  Wednesday . Detours will be posted using Crestwood Drive, Fernway Road and Hixson Pike.  All work is weather permitting. ... (click for more)

Cabela's To Open Fort Oglethorpe Store May 13

Cabela’s announced Monday plans to celebrate the official grand opening of its new Fort Oglethorpe store on Wednesday, May 13, with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a weekend-long celebration featuring giveaways, family activities and more.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Cabela's executives and special guests, will begin at 9:45 a.m. and conclude with ... (click for more)

City Detective Who Was Arrested Twice In 4 Months Is Fired After Internal Affairs Investigation

A city detective who was arrested twice in four months has been fired by Police Chief Fred Fletcher. David Catchings had been charged with DUI last September and then with domestic assault at the end of the year. Police said, "After a complete review of both investigations – which included recommendations from Internal Affairs, the Administrative Review Committee and Officer ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Goodbye, Dr. Nassour

About 51 years ago, right after Jim Creel had graduated from the University of Texas and was in Guadalajara for medical school, he was surprised to find a complete stranger sitting on his battered and dusty Volkswagen. “He had seen my Longhorns sticker and was thrilled to find somebody else in Mexico who loved the University of Texas. “That’s when our friendship started and it ... (click for more)