During my 25 years in the Air Force, I’ve attended scores of ceremonies honoring and remembering our prisoners of war and missing in action – heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice while answering their nation’s call – and everyone was special.
As we prepare to observe POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 18, let us not forget to remember the families and friends of those still missing, and let us reaffirm our commitment to bring our nation’s warriors home.
More than 70,000 servicemembers remain unaccounted for since World War II. Right now, across the globe, teams of military and civilian experts are excavating sites, looking for remains to help identify servicemembers still missing from past wars. Teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, based at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, are on the job, working to provide the fullest possible accounting of America’s missing and living up to their command’s motto, “until they are home.”
Here in Germany, there are three teams currently working to investigate, search and, if possible, recover remains of U.S. servicemembers from World War II. Our country will not stop these efforts to reclaim our heroes and give them a much deserved homecoming. We continue to pay respect to them through the symbols of their sacrifice.
One of the most recognized symbols is the POW/MIA flag. The black and white flag is simple, yet tremendously powerful – a silhouette of a bowed head behind barbed wire with a guard tower looming. The flag represents our country’s dedication to fully resolve the fate of those still missing. The flag symbolizes ultimate accountability, highlighted in our Airman’s Creed verse: “I will never leave an Airman behind.”
In the last decade, more than 100 Airmen have been recovered and brought home, and that most important mission of recovery will continue. To help reaffirm our commitment to our POW/MIAs and to make this ceremony just as special as all the others, please join me for a remembrance ceremony at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 behind the Ramstein Officers’ Club at the River Rat Memorial. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place at the Ramstein Northside Chapel.
As always, thanks for serving!