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.

 


HCYD And Hamilton For Hillary To Host DNC Watch Party Thursday

The Hamilton County Young Democrats together with Hamilton for Hillary invite the public to watch the DNC Convention come to a close Thursday night at Mellow Mushroom on Broad Street at 8 p.m.  "Watch Hillary Clinton deliver her vision for the future of this country. You'll also have the opportunity to learn more about how you can be part of this organization. We're ... (click for more)

Paving Project On Hamill At Cassandra Smith

Hamill Road from the Chickamauga Creek bridge to Cassandra Smith Road and Cassandra Smith Road from Hamill Road to Coach Drive will be repaved beginning Friday.   The roads and intersection will be open, but drivers are asked to use caution and expect delays when traveling in this area.   This paving project is expected to be completed by Tuesday. In order to ... (click for more)

Beck Upset By Criticism Of Late WWTA Director Cleveland Grimes In WWTA Analysis; Boyd Won't Rewrite 57-Page Report

County Commissioner Greg Beck said it was inappropriate for fellow Commissioner Tim Boyd to include articles critical of the late Cleveland Grimes in a 57-page report on the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority. He said, "Criticizing a dead man - I don't know if that's appropriate. If that's Christianity, let me off the wagon." Saying the report should ... (click for more)

Investor In Scheme Says Dyer Made Contacts At Quarterback Club

One of the investors who was a loser in an investment scheme recently halted by the Securities and Exchange Commission said one of the Chattanooga brokers involved made many of his contacts through the Chattanooga Quarterback Club. Paul Smith, former Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, said Doug Dyer has been the president for many years of the club that promotes UTC and ... (click for more)

Give Bullet-Proof Vests To Every Black Youth In The City - And Response (2)

I heard a report that the Chattanooga police were being given better bullet-proof vests, and I had an idea. What if Chattanooga became known for something besides electric buses and fast internet service? What if Chattanooga provided a bullet-proof vest to every young black man and black youth in the city limits?   I can hear the scoffing as I write, but think about it. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Horses Vs. DesJarlais

It is well-known that shortly after the despicable “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry put on a very-pointed fundraiser for the equally repugnant Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) two years ago, the misguided doctor has repeatedly tried to bully and strong-arm the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the behalf of the vermin who sadistically torture the ... (click for more)