Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday paid tribute to six Tennessee servicemen who died in U.S. military campaigns overseas, including two whom until this past year had been listed as missing in action since the 1960s.
“It’s an honor for the state of Tennessee to get to recognize these families and friends who have lost loved ones,” the governor told reports following the event at the War Memorial Plaza. “Every time we do this I am re-impressed with the reality that, we thank the people who gave their life in uniform, but these are literally sons and husbands and daughters and best friends.”
“It’s just a reminder again of the sacrifice that some people make, and how difficult the challenge is for anybody who serves in uniform,” he said.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the number of Tennesseans who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan is 149, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
The number of Tennesseans confirmed to have died in the Vietnam War is 1,295, according to U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
Among the servicemen the governor memorialized were Vietnam War-era casualties whose remains were never fully recovered.
Army Staff Sargeant Lawrence Woods of Clarksville was killed in October 1964 in Vietnam, just two months after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, when the transport aircraft he and seven other servicemen were in crashed after being hit by ground fire. The plane was on a mission to resupply Special Forces units operating near the Cambodian border. U.S. officials announced earlier this year that through the use of “forensic and circumstantial evidence,” they’d concluded that Woods’ remains were at the plane’s wreckage site, which was excavated by American and Vietnamese scientists in 2010. Woods, who was 39 at the time of the crash, was buried in March of this year.
Thirty-four-year-old Air Force Major Howard V. Andre, Jr., of Memphis was killed in 1969 when the bomber flown by he and Major James Sizemore, a native of Illinois, was shot down over Laos on a reconnaissance flight. The remains of the two men “were unaccounted for until April 2013,” according to a state-produced memorial remembrance guide distributed at Friday’s service. They were buried at Arlington National Cemetery last September.
The service also paid tribute to Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Tyler Lee, who died in January at the age of 28 when he was shot on patrol in Afghanistan. Lee, a native of Crossville, was the most recent Tennessean to die in a U.S. military engagement.
Others honored during the ceremony included:
- Army Warrant Officer Judson Mount, 37, of Franklin, was severely injured during a roadside bomb attack near Baghdad in 2008. He died in 2009 after undergoing numerous surgeries.
- Army Officer One Sean W. Mullen, 39, was killed in southwest Afghanistan during “Operation Enduring Freedom” last summer. The Delaware native had moved to Tennessee with his wife in 2007. Mullen had served in the military for more than 17 years at the time of his death and was deployed six times.
- Army Staff Sergeant Stephen Michael New was killed in Kabul Province in Afghanistan on July 28, 2013. “The 29 year old grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and graduated from Bolton High School in the Arlington Community in 2003,” according to the memorial service program. “Later that year he enlisted to serve as a health care specialist.”
This week the United States House of Representatives voted on an amendment to repeal the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” approved by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11. The AUMF is the open-ended congressional stamp of approval for the Global War on Terror.
The amendment to “sunset” the AUMF failed, 233 nays to 191 yeas.
Among Tennessee’s delegation, those voting in favor of doing away with the AUMF were Democrats Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper, as well as Republicans Jim Duncan and Scott DesJarlais.
Those voting to keep the military-force authorization in place included Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Stephen Fincher, Phil Roe and Chuck Fleischmann, all Republicans.