Joe Nathan Woods and Dedera Lynn Woods and their children were bound for Willingboro, New Jersey, on Christmas leave to visit Dedera's family. Her father lay ill and in her close-knit, military family, that meant a home visit.
Joe came from a family of nine, and he and his five brothers were well known in Tupelo, Mississippi, for their great reservoirs of charm and their athletic prowess in track and on the football field. After serving in the military, where he and Dedera were married, Joe left to work as a civilian on base, while Dedera continued her military career.
Air Force Sergeant Dedera Woods and her brother and sister grew up in a military family that finally settled in Willingboro, New Jersey. After graduation from John F. Kennedy High School in 1979, Dedera attended and graduated from Norfolk State University in Virginia. She joined the U.S. Air Force where she met her husband.
The Woods had been transferred to West Germany in 1987 and had last visited home in August 1988.
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