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
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.
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.
November 20th 1969
Lance Corporal James A. Benton
April 27th 1967
Specialist 4th Class Dwight A. Bremmer
December 14th 1971
Specialist 4th Class James A. Brown
August 12, 1970
Lieutenant Colonel Donald F. Casey
June 23rd 1968
Sergeant Echol W. Coalston Jr.
January 21st 1968
Corporal James B. Conway
April 13th 1966
1st Lieutenant Larry W. Cotton
March 9th 1970
Lieutenant Commander Carroll O. Crain Jr.
March 8th 1967
Lance Corporal Richard H. Dallas
April 27th 1967
Private First Class Joe L. Delong
May 18th 1967
Specialist 4th Class Billy J. Ellis
January 3rd 1968
Sergeant Donald P. Gervais
May 1st 1968
1st Lieutenant Gary A. Glandon
May 26th 1966
Seaman Apprentice Thomas A. Goetsch
September 17, 1972
Captain Lucius L. Heiskell
February 6th 1967
Specialist 4th Class Jerry A. Hiemer
November 11th 1965
Private First Class James D. Hunter
October 29th 1968
Major Dale A. Johnson
November 27th 1966
1st Lieutenant Richard C. Lannom
Union City, TN
March 1st 1968
Petty Officer 1st Class James C. Newman Jr.
February 6th 1968
Sergeant Calvin A. Norris
November 3rd 1970
Major Lawerence B. Tatum
September 10th 1966
Lieutenant Colonel James A. Treece
October 7th 1966
1st Lieutenant John T. Welshan
Oak Ridge, TN
March 3rd 1968
Colonel David R. Williams
April 1st 1967
Captain William C. Woods Jr.
September 2nd 1972
Returned in the last year
Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods
October 24th, 1964