POW photo provides hope; anxiety for Moulton parents: Elmer and Erma Wood
a wood-carving is of a in by a at so a to I I in of a - .K; 4 "l i h o, . . tTHIIIIimrt- ' " .-j.. r.r.. .im. J Mrs. Erma Wood of Moulton looks at a 1970 picture of American I'OWs published in The Des Moines Register Dec. 23, 1972, to see how one of the men pictured resembles her son, Navy Lt. Cmdr. SUNDAY REGISTER PHOTO BY GEORGB CFOLLA Hex S. Wood, missing- in action June 2, 1967, and "presumed dead" two months later. Mrs. Wood and her husband, Elmer Hujrh Wood, both think one of the pictured TOWs resembles their son. POW Photo Provides Hope, Anxiety for Moulton Parents 4 h i REX WOOD By Nick f .nmberto (Riglsttr SHI! Wrlltr) Copyrloht, 197.1, net Mnlne Rnqlsler and Trlbunt Company MOULTON, IA. - In the 5'i years since Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rex Wood has been "missing in action and pre- his parents have j-"''' never really i 'tg given up hopeK f that somehow. somewhere he may still be alive. Rex Steward Wood, then 32, a Navy pilot on his third tour of duty in Southeast Asia, took off from his carrier in the Tonkin Gulf June 2, 1967, and never reached the appointed ren-devous with other planes taking part in the mission. Two months Inter, Wood was declared dead by the Defense Department and his wife, Naomi, of Los Altos, Calif., stopped receiving his salary and instead was paid the full amount of his life insurance. Wood's parents, Elmer Hugh Wood, and his wife, Erma, both ?4, of Moulton, admit that sometimes the strands of hope wear thin. 'You just can't give up all hope," said Mrs. Wood. "Some times that's all we have left." On Dec. 23, another straw ap peared on the sea of hope w hen Mrs. Wood saw a picture in The Des Moines Register of some American POWs playing basketball in a prison camp in North Vietnam. The picture was taken in 1970. Recognize Ear "We hardly dare hope, but one of the basketball players, the one with the ball, looks like our son," said Mrs. Wood. "We looked at the picture through the magnifying glass and the player with the ball with his back to us has an ear just like our son's. "When he was . young, his ears used to stick out and I tied a scarf around his head to keep them down. Lots of other people in town think it looks like Rex. Some think it's just wishful thinking on our part. "The next day (Sunday, Dec. 24) there was a prayer service at our church and the minister led us all In praying th;it the man in the picture is Rex. The whole town was in love with Rex. (Moulton, population 7fi.1, is in southeast Appanoose County.) "Even the way he cocked his head to one side shows in the picture. And when he was young nis left coliarnone was broken and he always carried that shoulder higher than his right. That's the way it is in the picture. "His best friend In town also thinks it's Rex." Wood's father looked at an enlarged copy of the picture and said: 'I've never seen anything like it. Of all the clues we have this is the best. "Every idiosyncrasy of his the way he holds the basketball, the way his feet are. Of course, it's just a shot in the dark, but it sure looks like him from the back." Cautioned Parentj . Before Wood left for Southeast Asia early in 7, he cautioned his parents that if he were taken prisoner they should not talk to the press or air their views publicly about the matter. "Rex told us that if the story got into the newspapers the enemy might take it out on him in prison camp," said the elder Wood. "And I have always kept my word and never told anything for publication about my son until now." The elder Wood and his wife operate a 95-year-old general store founded by his father on Moulton's main street. Wood also stores corn and beans for farmers. Wood, called Hugh by ev-erynne, is president of the M o u 1 1 o n-Udrll Community school board, president of the Farmers Co-operative Telephone Co., Moulton fire chief and a lay preacher in the Methodist church. He Is a Drake University graduate with a major In accounting. Mrs. Wood, the former Erma Voss of Exira, onre worked as a secretary in Des Moines for the Langan Taper Co. Mrs. Wood was chairman of the $fin.noo Garrett Memorial Library here when it opened in May, 19f9. Many of the books in the library have been do- Inafed In the name of the two Wood sons. Rex Wood's brother, Hugh, jr., died in 1968 at the age of 37. Seven Grandchildren The Woods have been married 43 years. With son Hugh, jr., dead and son Rex missing and presumed dead, much of the Woods' attention is focused on their seven grandchildren, six of whom, ranging in age from 19 to 9, are children of Hugh, jr., and live here. The seventh grandchild, Susan, 10 years old Dec. 29, is the daughter of son Rex and frequently visits her grandparents here. Rex Wood was born June 25, 1934, and was graduated from Moulton High school In 1952. He was a basketball star in high school. In 195fi he was graduated with honors from Iowa State PARENTS Please turn to Page Twelve In Tomorrow Morning's Register All About Headaches Thomas Jefferson suffered splitting headaches. The visual distortions described in "Alice In Wonderland" resulted from headaches suffered by Iewis Carroll. Monday's Register will carry a report on headaches a half million Americans endure today. Tired of Bad News? So was Jeffe Overstreet of Costa Mesa, Calif. He , did something which brought him peare of mind. & You'll read about it In Monday's Register. I Hit- frjv i F . ' i v i - f V $ ' v . m i L ... -..... T: r n ( H ' - I Elmer Hugh Wood, fil, and his wife, Erma, both think the basketball player with the ball in his hand in the 1970 picture of American POWs released last month by Hanoi resembles their son because of the way his ear sticks out and how he holds his head.