American father Philip Wood confirmed as passenger on missing Malaysia Airlines jet

Jason Sickles, Yahoo
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DALLAS – One of three Americans aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is a longtime IBM executive who raised his family in North Texas before moving to East Asia.

The name of Philip Wood, 50, is among 239 people identified on a passenger manifest provided by the airline. Two others with American passports are listed as Nicole Meng, 4, and Yan Zhang, age 2.

Wood’s ex-wife confirmed the family’s fears in a Facebook post on Saturday afternoon.

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Philip Wood (Linkedin)

“Philip Wood was a wonderful man,” wrote Elaine Wood, who still lives in the Dallas area. “Although we were no longer married, he is still family. His sons and I just want peace and quiet right now.”

Elaine's Facebook page was quickly flooded with messages of condolences from friends and family. Wood’s oldest son is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, which his younger son now attends.

The family last saw Wood about a week ago when he visited his Texas home, James Wood, the man’s brother, told the AP on Sunday.

“There is a shock, a very surreal moment in your life,” James Wood said. “We are one family, there are 240 other families. Our hearts go out to them.”

In a prepared statement to the media, the Wood family described Philip Wood as “incredibly generous, creative and intelligent.”

“Phil cared about people, his family, and above all, Christ,” they said in the statement. “Though our hearts are hurting, we know so many families around the world are affected just as much as us by this terrible tragedy. We ask for your prayers, not only for ourselves, but for all involved during this difficult time.”

The Boeing 777 was en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers around 2:40 a.m. local time Saturday, two hours after takeoff. Officials said they received no distress call from pilots.

On Monday, officials said debris spotted in the South China Sea and previously thought to be part of a plane door proved not to be. The search for any sign of the aircraft or clues as to what happened continues. 

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a senior source involved in the preliminary investigation told Reuters.

Aubrey Wood, the man’s father, told KTVT in Dallas that the Malaysian Embassy contacted him regarding his son being on the flight. However, the elder Wood told the New York Times that the family had little information beyond media reports.

“We’re all sticking together,” his father told the newspaper from his home in Keller, Texas. “What can you do? What can you say?”

[RELATED: Texas tech firm says 20 employees were on missing plane]

IBM officials could not be reached for comment on Saturday, but a former longtime colleague confirmed to Yahoo News that Wood was working and living in Kuala Lumpur after spending a few years in IBM’s Beijing office.

Craig Dahl, who retired from IBM last year, said he has known Wood for at least 25 years.

“Since I found out, I feel like somebody punched me in the stomach,” Dahl said. “It's just very sad to think that he could be gone.”

Dahl said Wood, who sold technical storage solutions, went to Beijing when “IBM was offering people the opportunity to take jobs overseas if they kind of wanted to experience the world.”

“That's the kind of spirit that Philip had, an adventuresome person who wouldn't mind experiencing another culture and getting immersed in it,” said Dahl, who is 51 and lives near Detroit. “He was a very encouraging person and a lot of fun to be with.”

The Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing flight would have been a very routine trip for an IBM employee like Wood, Dahl said. As a former frequent traveler himself, Dahl said he's haunted by thoughts of what his friend might have experienced.

“I can imagine being in that plane as it's going down or whatever is happening to it,” Dahl told Yahoo News. “I can imagine being in his place. That's what really strikes hard with me, knowing that a friend of mine went through that. I know that the odds are not in his favor but miracles do occur, so maybe there will be something that will be found.”

[This story was updated at 10:45 a.m. ET on Monday.]

Follow Jason Sickles on Twitter (@jasonsickles).

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