Keeping the promise 'no one left behind'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shandresha Mitchell
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"To me it's important to not forget the prisoners of war and their families," stated Senior Master Sgt. Deborah Parsons, 6th Force Support Squadron food service superintendent and the Air Force Sergeants Association Chapter 552 Buccaneers' president. "We have a POW in captivity, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and we can't forget about him; his family is still missing him."

The AFSA Chapter 552 Buccaneers decided to take the lead and organize a base event. This is the first ceremony since 2007 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

POW/MIA Recognition Day was established during the 1980s by the National League of POW/MIA Families, and after much legislative debate, Congress adopted National POW/MIA Recognition Day in 1995.

In an effort to accommodate all returned POWs and the Americans still missing and unaccounted for from all wars, the National League of POW/MIA Families proposed the third Friday in Sept., a date not associated with any particular war, not in conjunction with any organization's national convention and a time when the weather across the nation is usually moderate.

"It's important that we remember this," comments Parsons. "This isn't just something from WWII; all the wars have had POWs/MIAs, some that have not been brought home yet."

More than 83,000Americans are still missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts. POWs and service members MIA will be recognized this year on Sept. 20, 2013.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies are held throughout the nation and around the world on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, churches, national veteran and civic organizations, police and fire departments, fire stations, etc.

MacDill held a base event, which consisted of: an installation 5K run; teams walking the track in half-hour shifts carrying the POW/MIA flag and reading the names of the Florida POWs and members MIA over the speaker; a team running the POW/MIA flag 10 miles down Bayshore Boulevard to the Bayshore Patriots and back; and a retreat ceremony with retired U. S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Walter Raysick as a guest speaker.

Members of Team MacDill, service members and civilians, showed their support by participating in the various events taking place all day.

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Stephenson, 6th Contracting Squadron, commented before running with the flag, "It's a great way to pay tribute to our POWs and MIAs. Participating in this event just keeps that torch alive and shows that we are always going to remember them and continue having this ceremony in recognition of them."

With volunteers from every organization the event was a success.

Staff Sgt. Marcus Zachary, 6th Comptroller Squadron, stated, "I volunteered for this event to show my respect for POWs and MIAs."

These are the statistics for those still missing: "You are not forgotten."

· WWII - 78, 621
· Cold War - 120
· Korea - 8,124
· Vietnam - 1,664
· Enduring Freedom - 1

"I think all the support we have gotten around the base, especially from all our mission partners, is great," exclaimed Parsons. "There isn't a specific branch that is targeted by this day, every branch has MIAs/POWs; so I think it's amazing that the entire base is coming together to recognize this day."