Family Honors Veteran Found 49 Years After Plane Crash
by Adam Ghassemi
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The family of Army Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods got to honor the veteran nearly 50 years after he was classified MIA during simultaneous ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and in Clarksville.
Friday seven U.S. service members from the Vietnam War were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The military only identified the remains of Woods last fall nearly 50-years after their plane was shot down by enemy fire.
While that ceremony was going on just outside Washington D.C., another was happening here as flags flew at half-staff across the state.
A group gathered Friday at Patriots Park to support a man they've never met, who was also a stranger to his own grandchildren.
"I wish I could have ever met him," said Bobby Woods.
Woods, along with his brother Donnie, grew-up only hearing stories about their grandfather, Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods.
"He loved his uniform. He loved his army suit," Donnie Woods.
Ronald Wood considered the fallen solider a brother, even if their last names are only one letter apart.
"It was close enough for us," Wood said.
The pair became friends during the Vietnam War. Woods was a cook, who never turned down an opportunity to serve.
"He would volunteer to go. He didn't have to do it. He would ask to get to go do it," Wood went on to say.
On October 24th, 1964, Woods ended up on a plane to resupply troops when enemy fire brought him and six others down. He was MIA for 49-years until one phone call last fall.
"I never thought this day would happen. I never thought they would ever find his remains," Bobby woods said.
Family members who couldn't make it to D.C. honored Woods here with a group of people with a mission just as important as his.
"We will not allow them to be forgotten and we'll pay our respects," said A.J. Perrone with the Vietnam Vets Legacy Motorcycle Club, which organized the Clarksville event.
"They don't have to do this, but they're doing it out of respect and it means a lot. Means a lot to our family," Bobby Woods said.
The other six crew members were laid to rest shortly after the crash, but teams did discover partial remains of those soldiers as well. Those remains were buried today with Woods in a single casket with his son and other family watching.