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Clarksville, TN – It is a solemn occasion when a nation gathers together to honor its soldiers, those who lived to come home, but even more importantly those who did not. The body of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 21st of this year. There are 27 remaining missing POW/MIA’s from the State of Tennessee. Each one was honored in a ceremony held in front of the William O. Beach Civic Center at Veterans Plaza in Clarksville Tennessee on Sunday evening.
The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 396 holds this Memorial Day Vigil each year to remember the men and women who were left behind in Vietnam when American forces left that country in 1975.The Local vigil was first held in 1989 the same year that Chapter 396 was chartered. They consider it an honored duty to call the roll each year so that these lost bothers and sisters are not forgotten. The first reading contained 43 names on the roster, since then 16 remains have been returned or located. This was their 24th year performing this solemn duty.
The colors were posted as an honor guard of Montgomery Central High School JROTC. Then a single chair representing all of the POW/MIA’s nationwide was placed in a position of honor before the audience. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, and a moment of silence was held. Then Rev. Scott Witt delivered the invocation.
The guest speaker for this year was Tennessee State Senator Mark Green. Also on hand were Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers; Montgomery County Commissioner Ron Sokel; Clarksville City Mayor Kim McMillan; Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts, Former State Senators Rosalind Kurita, and Tim Barnes; Clarksville City Councilwoman Kaye Jones; Councilman Bill Summers; and several Gold Star Wives.
“We have with us, members of a very special group some of the Gold Star Wives setting in the audience. We are very appreciative of them and their losses, and we appreciate the message that they carry forward,” said Emcee Gary Ezell.
First Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillian addressed the audience.
She was followed by Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers
Green kicked off his speech.
After Green finished Gary Ezell returned to the podium and began honoring the POW/MIA’s from Tennessee.
During the ceremony, The 27 names were slowly read aloud, the bell pealed, as someone in the background intoned “Absent, but not forgotten.” The flame was lit. The empty chair, draped with a POW/MIA shirt and a placard, identifying the missing solider that it represented, was carried forward by a Montgomery Central JROTC, cadet who once it was in place stepped up before it, and rendered a silent salute.
The POW/MIA chair was retired followed by the colors. Then Rev. Scott Witt delivered the benediction closing out the ceremony.
Remembering these missing soldiers is indeed a solemn duty, and one that patriotic Clarksvillians are only too happy to undertake.
Below are the names of the missing Tennesseans. We offer our fervent hope that they too all find their way home once more.
1st Lieutenant John R. Baldridge Jr.
Lance Corporal James A. Benton
Specialist 4th Class Dwight A. Bremmer
Specialist 4th Class James A. Brown
Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Casey
Sergeant Echol W. Coalston Jr.
Corporal James B. Conway
1st Lieutenant Larry W. Cotton
Lieutenant Commander Carroll O. Crain Jr.
Lance Corporal Richard H. Dallas
Private First Class Joe L. Delong
Specialist 4th Class Billy J. Ellis
Sergeant Donald P. Gervais
1st Lieutenant Gary A. Glandon
Seaman Apprentice Thomas A. Goetsch
Captain Lucius L. Heiskell
Specialist 4th Class Jerry A. Hiemer
Private First Class James D. Hunter
Major Dale A. Johnson
1st Lieutenant Richard C. Lannom
Petty Officer 1st Class James C. Newman Jr.
Sergeant Calvin A. Norris
Major Lawerence B. Tatum
Lieutenant Colonel James A. Treece
1st Lieutenant John T. Welshan
Colonel David R. Williams
Captain William C. Woods Jr.
Returned in the last year
Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods
Bill Larson is the Creator and former Publisher of Clarksville Online. He is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.
You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
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