Friday marks start of Tenn. POW/MIA Recognition Week

(WBIR) Tens of thousands of American heroes are missing right now.

The Department of Defense reports that more than 83,000 service members, including more than 200 Tennesseans, are missing or unaccounted since World War II.

Gov. Bill Haslam said the week of Sept. 20-26 will pay tribute to service members captured by enemies or still missing. In honor of those men and women, the well-known POW-MIA Flag will fly over the Tennessee State Capitol Friday marking the start of POW/MIA Recognition Week.

Maj. Howard Andre from Memphis was one of thousands listed as missing. He along with Maj. James E. Sizemore of Illinois were on a night armed mission when their A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos during the Vietnam War. The Air Force listed Maj. Andre as missing for nearly 44 years. But, in April 2013, the DOD announced it accounted for both men's remains. The Air Force pilots will be returned to their families with full military honors on September 23 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said honoring heroes like Maj. Andre is essential for Tennessee.

"We have made a commitment as a state and country to never forget the sacrifices of Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action," Grinder said in a release. "The recovery of Maj. Andre is a reminder that our commitment to remember should endure until all our service members are brought home."

This week, a man also learned he would be reunited with his grandfather after his plane was shot down over Cambodia nearly 49 years ago. Officials notified the family of Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods that the Clarksville native's remains have been found.

"It's overwhelming," his grandson Steve Woods of Clarksville told The Tennessean Thursday. "Today is my daughter's fifth birthday and we get this news that they found my grandfather. I just can't believe it."

MORE: Clarksville Vietnam soldier's remains found

Staff Sgt. Woods was a solider in the 5th Special Forces Group, which was based out of Fort Campbell. He was one of a crew of eight - five Air Force crew members and three soldiers from the Army - aboard a Fairchild C-123 "Provider." The enemy shot down the aircraft between what was then South Vietnam and Cambodia. According to The Tennessean, Woods's family members said his identification hinged on DNA evidence obtained previously from family members.

Contributing: Phillip Grey, The Tennessean


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