Nearly 50 years after his plane was shot down over Cambodia in October 1964, the remains of a Fort Campbell soldier have finally been identified, according to his family.
Lisa Szymanski of Fort Myers, Fla., said officials with the Past Conflict Repatriations Branch at Fort Knox, Ky., notified her on Tuesday that remains found at a crash site are those of her father, Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods.
Fort Knox spokesman Bill Costello told The Associated Press that officials contacted Szymanski, but the identification won't be official until the family is briefed.
Woods was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group based at Fort Campbell, Ky., when he shipped out to Vietnam in 1963. His plane was shot down on Oct. 24, 1964, with eight crew members aboard.
Subsequent searches located seven bodies, but not Woods' remains. Details of how his remains were located and identified were not immediately available.
The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle reported that family members were relieved to learn what happened to Woods, but struggling to comprehend information they weren’t sure they would ever receive.
“I still can’t comprehend that this is really happening,” Szymanski told the newspaper. “God, I really thought I would die not knowing.
His son, Steve Woods, of Clarksville, Tenn., recalled the notifications his mother, who raised three children by herself, received after his father's death.
“My mom got two telegrams. One in 1964 that said he was missing, and another one in 1965 that said he was (presumed) dead,” Woods told the newspaper.
Woods said that other family members gave up thinking that his father would ever be found, but he never did. He said Tuesday was "the happiest day of my entire life."
“I never gave up on that. I held onto that," he said. "After all these years, I can close the chapter on the book of his life. The precious Lord gave me a miracle.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.