Remains of Valdosta native who served in World War II arriving to TLH Friday
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The remains of a fallen soldier will be returning to the region Friday, nearly eight decades after his death.
According to a press release from the U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. William O. Wood of the Army Air Forces was finally identified in May 2022 by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) “using circumstantial evidence as well as anthropological, mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA and autosomal DNA analysis.”
The World War II veteran was both examined and identified by the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, as part of an effort that began in 2017 to identify remains that were thought to be from Operation TIDAL WAVE, which the release describes as “the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania.”
As a member of the 328th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Sgt. Wood served as a gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber during Operation TIDAL WAVE. On Aug. 1, 1943, his bomber crashed after being shot down by the enemy anti-aircraft fire. The Valdosta native was 25 years old.
The release says Wood was previously interred in cemeteries as an unknown soldier in Romania and Belgium before the DPAA exhumed his remains.
Wood’s name is on one of the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, but the release notes that a rosette will be put next to his name to show that he has now been accounted for.
Wood will be laid to rest on Aug. 1 at Tallahassee National Cemetery, with graveside services for the sergeant to be performed by Bevis Funeral Home. According to the funeral home, Wood’s remains will arrive at the Tallahassee International Airport at 6:01 Friday, where an honor guard will take them off the plane, followed by an escort to the funeral home.
Watch WCTV Friday evening for more coverage on the late sergeant’s return to the United States.
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