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.

 


Star Line Books Hosts An Afternoon With Poet Bill Brown March 16

3 Local Hospitals Benefit From Women Of Distinction Of Greater Chattanooga Luncheon

Missy Crutchfield's Yoga On Union To Kick Off "Free Your Soul" Benefit Yoga Series


Star Line Books is hosting poet Bill Brown for a afternoon reading Saturday, March 16 from 3-4 p.m. Mr. Brown will read from his latest book, Cairns: Poems New and Selected. "Bill has ... (click for more)

The Steering Committee of the Women of Distinction of Greater Chattanooga announced that more than $70,000 was netted from the 2018 Awards Luncheon held in October and attended by 550 guests. ... (click for more)

Missy Crutchfield's Yoga on Union will be bringing her "Free Your Soul" yoga series to the Laughing Buddah, 4810 Hixson Pike, every Thursday night starting at 6 p.m., with a kick-off this Thursday. ... (click for more)


Happenings

Star Line Books Hosts An Afternoon With Poet Bill Brown March 16

Star Line Books is hosting poet Bill Brown for a afternoon reading Saturday, March 16 from 3-4 p.m. Mr. Brown will read from his latest book, Cairns: Poems New and Selected. "Bill has eleven previous books, and this volume includes a nice selection of each, as well as enough new poems to make up a small book of their own," officials said. (click for more)

3 Local Hospitals Benefit From Women Of Distinction Of Greater Chattanooga Luncheon

The Steering Committee of the Women of Distinction of Greater Chattanooga announced that more than $70,000 was netted from the 2018 Awards Luncheon held in October and attended by 550 guests. All proceeds benefit three local institutions; thus, $23,359 will be awarded to each of the following: the Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute, the Heart and Vascular Center at Parkridge Medical ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Under Flood Watch Until Thursday Morning

Chattanooga is under a Flood Watch through Thursday morning. The latest forecast calls for up to three new inches of rain. Area creeks are already swollen from recent downpours. Here is the Flood Watch from the National Weather Service:' FLOOD WATCH FROM 7PM EST TUE UNTIL 7AM EST THU ...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING... ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Arrested Erroneously While Starting On Family Vacation To Iceland Sues For $27 Million

A Chattanooga man who was arrested erroneously while starting on a family vacation to Iceland has filed suit for $27 million. George Harrison is suing the city and Chattanooga Police officers Kaumar Hughes and Mathew Lynch in Federal Court. He is suing the city for $5 million and the officers for $1 million each. He is asking $20 million punitive damages in the complaint filed ... (click for more)

Opinion

Heavy Rains Are Coming In The Next Few Days…

Please remember to check on folks that are vulnerable which includes the elderly and homebound. With expectations of up to 7 inches or more of rain, we may see flooding in areas that rival those of the past. As Chief Roddy told me this morning, be proactive, not reactive. Pack for an extended stay at work or someone's house. Be ready with extra food, water and blanket in your ... (click for more)

The $500,000 Tax Money Giveway

Mayor Berke, On September 5, 2017, you asked and were granted a 22-cent property tax increase for city government operations and a capital fund. At the meeting, the City Council approved your proposal for the property tax increase of 22 cents per $100 of property assessment. As a result, every business, home owner, and property owner had one-month notice that their local property ... (click for more)