Published March 22, 2014
Nearly 50 years after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War in October 1964, the remains of a Tennessee soldier have been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
The ceremony Friday honored crew members of a C-123 Provider aircraft that crashed after it was struck by enemy fire while resupplying the U.S. Special Forces camp at Bu Prang, Vietnam.
The service members include Army Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods of Clarksville. His remains were recently identified after having been recovered several years ago by U.S. and Vietnamese teams.
The teams also recovered additional remains of six other crew members who were laid to rest shortly after the crash. Those remains were buried with Woods in a single casket.
Dozens of relatives of the soldiers attended the burial at Arlington, where Woods’s children, Steven Woods and Lisa Szymanski, accepted a folded American flag while the United States Air Force band played, The New York Times reported.
Simultaneously, in Woods' native Clarksville, his memory was honored at a local park in a celebration of his life.
Laura Woods, the wife of Sgt. Woods' grandson, Bobby, brought the gathering to tears with a eulogy for her grandfather-in-law, The Leaf-Chronicle reported.
“I would like to say ‘thank you’ today to those who have never forgotten, who remember the soldiers and what they do every day. I would like to thank the people who taught us what those initials mean – Prisoner of War and Missing in Action. We will never forget what you have done for all of us, and we appreciate it," Laura Woods was quoted as saying.
When her husband’s grandfather’s remains were recovered last year, she made it her mission to learn about the symbols associated with the Vietnam War, such as the POW/MIA flag, according to the report.
“His legacy lives on in the hearts of his children and his grandchildren. His legacy lives on in the aspirations of his great-grandchildren," she said. "And his legacy lives on in the hearts of all of you who have never forgotten and never will forget the sacrifice he made.”
The other service members buried at Arlington on Friday were Air Force Capt. Valmore W. Bourque, Air Force 1st Lt. Robert G. Armstrong, Air Force Staff Sgt. Ernest J. Halvorson, Air Force Staff Sgt. Theodore B. Phillips, Air Force Airman 1st Class Eugene Richardson, Army Pfc. Charles P. Sparks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.