- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - More than 50 years after their father left home, the children of Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods are preparing to say their final goodbyes.

Woods will be interred next month at Arlington National Cemetery. His name will be added to a headstone and his remains placed with the partial remains of six others who died when their plane went down in Cambodia in 1964 near the border of Vietnam.

The military found and recovered Woods‘ remains last year near the site of the crash.

Woods was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell.

Woods’ children told The Leaf-Chronicle (http://leafne.ws/N6GzDe) they and other relatives plan to attend the ceremony on March 21.

Lawrence Woods left his home in Clarksville, Tenn., in 1963 to deploy to Vietnam.

While there, he served as a cook and medic, sometimes flying resupply flights to troops. On Oct. 24, 1964, a Fairchild C-123 Provider took off from Nha Trang Air Base on the southwest coast of the country. The crew was set to resupply ground forces operating near the border of then-South Vietnam and Cambodia.

Enemy fire struck the plane near the resupply point at Bu Prang about 100 miles northeast of Saigon. The airplane exploded during the crash. Seven crew members from California, Colorado, Maine, New York and Texas were eventually found. Woods remained missing until the area was excavated.

Karen Johnson of the U.S. Army Past Conflict Repatriation Branch of the Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Fort Knox, Ky., said remains from the site were recovered, but they were so badly burned that DNA could not be extracted.

“It was decided,” Johnson said, “it was time to inter them as a group. That’s what we do when we can’t identify specifically who the remains belong to.”

“However, it’s the first time for the Woods family that they have had closure of any kind. It’s not enough, probably, but it’s something.”

Woods‘ daughter, Lisa Szymanski, and son, Steve Woods, said they are satisfied with how the military has handled the process.

“They have been so great to us, getting us plane tickets and hotel rooms for the funeral and taking the time to explain everything,” said Steve Woods, who lives in Murfreesboro. “And when the 5th Special Forces Group had their reunion back in September at Fort Campbell, a former colonel came and picked me up to go to their picnic. They made me feel like family. The Army has been wonderful through this whole thing.”

Szymanski, who lives in Florida, said members of the Special Forces community also plan to attend.

“We’re coming down to the end of it,” said Szymanski, who was 13 when her father left for Vietnam. “It’s the last thing we have to do.”

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Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, http://www.theleafchronicle.com

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