Regional News

WWII sailor’s remains to be escorted through Habersham this evening


A sailor who died at Pearl Harbor and was recently identified, is being reunited with his family in Franklin, North Carolina today. The remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Frank Wood will be escorted through Habersham County along the way. 

Lost for 76 years

Frank Wood was just 25-years old when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was onboard the USS Oklahoma when it was struck by torpedoes, according to the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The ship capsized, trapping and killing more than 400 crew members.

Wood was buried along with other unidentified remains in Honolulu. He remained there for 76 years until his remains were identified through DNA analysis and dental comparisons last August.

Originally from Jackson, Ohio, Wood’s nearest living relatives now reside in Franklin. It was his niece, Jill Lee, whose DNA helped make the match, according to WLOS.

The family says identifying and burying Wood in the family plot outside Franklin will bring closure. “I think I’ll just take it in and, hopefully, honor his sacrifice,” says his great-nephew Mike Kopp.

The World War II sailor will be buried with full military honors at Carson Cemetery in Franklin at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Journey home

Wood’s remains are due to arrive in Atlanta just after 4 p.m. The hearse carrying his remains will travel north from Interstate 85 in Atlanta through Gwinnett, Hall, Habersham, and Rabun counties. Law enforcement officials will escort the hearse as it passes through their jurisdictions. Habersham County deputies will pick up the escort at the Habersham/Hall County line.

Officials are asking the community to help honor the fallen sailor on this final leg of his journey home.

“We would like to see the highway four lane lined with as many people this evening as possible,” says a Nixle alert from Habersham County 911.

“I would love for everyone to come out and pay their respects by lining the four lane throughout our county. If they have a flag, bring it and wave it proudly!” – E-911 Director Lynn Smith

Officials say it’s difficult to time exactly when the escort will arrive in Habersham since it’s traveling through Atlanta traffic on a Friday.

E-911 director Lynn Smith says local officials will be notified when the hearse arrives in Hall County. When it does, Habersham County 911 and the sheriff’s office will post notices to their Facebook pages to give members of the public time to line the route.

Now Habersham also will relay that information on our Facebook page.

“We intend on having as many patrol cars (in the escort) as we possibly can,” says Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Matt Wurtz. He says Habersham County Emergency Services will assist law enforcement in blocking intersections along the route. “We plan on having at least the intersections with traffic lights – Duncan Bridge, Highway 197, Demorest-Mt. Airy Highway, Tom Arrendale Interchange, Hollywood – all those intersections we will have them blocked so that we can get him to his final point of rest.”

“I think this is an honor for the citizens to have the opportunity to pay respect to Mr. Wood,” says Smith. “He sacrificed his life for all of us to live in a free country.”

The route through Habersham extends from Hall County to the Rabun County line. The escort will travel on GA 365 to GA 15/US 441. Those wishing to line the route should pull their vehicles as far off to the right of the road as is safe to do so. Do not stop in travel lanes.

“It’s important to us to give this tribute and honor to this guy who gave his life for us,” says Lt. Wurtz. Smith adds, “I would love for everyone to come out and pay their respects by lining the four lane throughout our county. If they have a flag, bring it and wave it proudly!”

Featured Photo credit: WLOS 

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