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Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 396 holds annual Memorial Day Candle Light Vigil

 

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.

State Senator Mark Green delivering the keynote address at the 2014 Vietnam Veterans of America Candle Light VigilState Senator Mark Green delivering the keynote address

State Senator Mark Green delivering the keynote address at the 2014 Vietnam Veterans of America Candle Light Vigil

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 Montgomery Central JROTC Color Guard posts the colors

The Montgomery Central JROTC Color Guard posts the colors

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

Next Ezell introduced State Senator Mark Green.

 I received the bio of our speaker here just recently. I was extremely impressed with the biography. I am not sure that I could list all of the accomplishments in this gentleman’s career.

Dr. Mark Green currently serves as a Tennessee State Senator representing District 22 which comprises Houston Montgomery and Stewart Counties. He also served on the Commerce and Labor Committee, The Senate Judiciary Committee, and the State and Local Government Committee.

In his professional life he is President and CEO of AlignMD, an emergency department and urgent care management and staffing company here in Clarksville. He also founded the AlignMD foundation which provides healthcare to underserved populations of the world.

Dr. Green graduated from high school in Monticello Mississippi, and we forgive him for that because it was not his choice. In 1986 he graduated from West Point with a degree in business management. In addition Mark has a master certificate from USC and we forgive him for that. He has his medical degree Wright State University in Dayton Ohio.

His military career began as an Infantry Officer. From 87 and 90 he served several assignments for the 194th Separate Armored Brigade in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Following completion of his Advanced Officers Course Capt. Green served as a battalion supply officer and as an airborne rifle company commander in the famed 82nd Airborne Division. During his last assignment as an active duty soldier, he served as the emergency department director from Fort Campbell Kentucky’s Blanchfield Army community Hospital. He wanna was there for patient satisfaction and efficiency.

His many military awards include the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Air Medal with V Device for Valor under heavy enemy fire, the other metals are too numerous to mention. He also received many awards for combat and combat unit service.

In 1989 he married the love of his life Ms. Camilla Joy Guenther. They have two children Alexa and Mitchell.

Green kicked off his speech.

After Green finished Gary Ezell returned to the podium and began honoring the POW/MIA’s from Tennessee.

A Montgomery Central JROTC Cadet salutes a chair recognizing a missing soldier

A Montgomery Central JROTC Cadet salutes a chair recognizing a missing soldier

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.

Photo Gallery

The POW/MIA’s

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.
USAF
Memphis, TN
November 20th 1969

Lance Corporal James A. Benton
USMC
Daisy, TN
April 27th 1967

Specialist 4th Class Dwight A. Bremmer
U.S. Army
Oakland, TN
December 14th 1971

Specialist 4th Class James A. Brown
U.S. Army
Humbolt, TN
August 12, 1970

Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Casey
USAF
Chattanooga, TN
June 23rd 1968

Sergeant Echol W. Coalston Jr.
U.S. Army
Memphis, TN
January 21st 1968

Corporal James B. Conway
U.S. Army
Franklin, TN
April 13th 1966

1st Lieutenant Larry W. Cotton
USAF
Nashville, TN
March 9th 1970

Lieutenant Commander Carroll O. Crain Jr.
U.S. Navy
Memphis, TN
March 8th 1967

Lance Corporal Richard H. Dallas
USMC
Memphis, TN
April 27th 1967

Private First Class Joe L. Delong
U.S. Army
McMinnville, TN
May 18th 1967

Specialist 4th Class Billy J. Ellis
U.S. Army
Elizabethton, TN
January 3rd 1968

Sergeant Donald P. Gervais
U.S. Army
Clarksville, TN
May 1st 1968

1st Lieutenant Gary A. Glandon
USAF
Powell, TN
May 26th 1966

Seaman Apprentice Thomas A. Goetsch
U.S. Navy
Memphis, TN
September 17, 1972

Captain Lucius L. Heiskell
USAF
Memphis, TN
February 6th 1967

Specialist 4th Class Jerry A. Hiemer
U.S. Army
Memphis, TN
November 11th 1965

Private First Class James D. Hunter
U.S. Army
Portland, TN
October 29th 1968

Major Dale A. Johnson
USAF
Elizabethton, TN
November 27th 1966

1st Lieutenant Richard C. Lannom
USMC
Union City, TN
March 1st 1968

Petty Officer 1st Class James C. Newman Jr.
U.S. Navy
Knoxville, TN
February 6th 1968

Sergeant Calvin A. Norris
U.S. Army
Monterey, TN
November 3rd 1970

Major Lawerence B. Tatum
U.S. Army
Chattanooga, TN
September 10th 1966

Lieutenant Colonel James A. Treece
USAF
Memphis, TN
October 7th 1966

1st Lieutenant John T. Welshan
USAF
Oak Ridge, TN
March 3rd 1968

Colonel David R. Williams
USAF
Memphis, TN
April 1st 1967

Captain William C. Woods Jr.
USAF
Paris, TN
September 2nd 1972

Returned in the last year

Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods
U.S. Army
Clarksville, TN
October 24th, 1964


About Bill Larson

    Bill Larson

    Bill Larson is the Creator and Publisher of Clarksville Online, and works as a network administrator for Compu-Net Enterprises. He is politically and socially active in the community. Bill serves on the board of the Clarksville Community Concert Association, and 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.

    Email: clarksville@clarksvilleonline.com

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