News>Wolf Pack remembers prisoners of war, those missing in action
Shawn Watson, Veterans of Foreign Affairs District 3, Post 10216 commander, speaks about the importance of never forgetting our prisoners of war or missing in action during the base POW/MIA ceremony at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 17, 2010. POW/MIA ceremonies are held annually on the third Friday of September.(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pomeroy
8th Fighter Wing honor guard members render a final salute to the remembrance table set aside for those military members who are still missing in action or prisoners of war during the base POW/MIA ceremony, at Kusan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 17, 2010. In attendance at the ceremony was guest speaker Shawn Watson, Veterans of Foreign Affairs District 3, Post 10216 commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pomeroy)
by Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
9/18/2010 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members of the 8th Fighter Wing gathered to remember military prisoners of war and those missing in action during a ceremony here Sept. 17.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed annually on the third Friday in September, to ensure these military brethren are never forgotten.
"As flyers, the POW/MIA Day has a special spot in our hearts because ... being a pilot shot down behind enemy lines is one of our biggest fears," said Col. John Dolan, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "And in today's fight it's not just our Airmen who fly aircraft that are affected, it's base defenders and Special Forces and many of our other service brethren who have been behind enemy lines and ... have given the ultimate sacrifice."
The day is one of reflection, Colonel Dolan said. He introduced Shawn Watson, Veterans of Foreign Affairs District 3 Post 10216 commander and guest speaker for the ceremony.
"I am honored to be here today as we salute the men and women who served and sacrificed to keep America free, and to recognize the families of the missing, who continue to hope and pray that their loved ones will someday return home," Mr. Watson said. "There are currently 88,000 Americans listed as missing and unaccounted for, going back to the second world war ... 88,000 Americans who have yet to return home from their wars - that number equals the population of any town in any state in our country. Now add to that number their surviving parents, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and you have a huge population of fellow Americans who continue to grieve in silence every day. My war ended a long time ago ... theirs, sadly has not."
As Mr. Watson closed his speech, the room darkened and the 8th FW honor guard prepared to perform the movements to accompany the solemn POW/MIA Recognition Day script, read by Staff Sgt. Anthony Harmon, ceremony narrator.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the center of our gathering," Sergeant Harmon said. "You may have noticed the table set before you. It is filled with symbolism. I will explain.
"The table is set for our prisoners of war and those missing in action - from all wars. They are not with us today," Sergeant Harmon continued. "Their chairs are empty, but saved for their hoped return. Let us remember their absence."
Each service was represented at the table to let Wolf Pack members remember the many prisoners of war from all branches of service. Each part of the table had a symbolic meaning -- from the white tablecloth symbolizing the purity of the POW/MIAs' intentions to respond to their country's call, to the faded picture on the table that served as a reminder that the members are missed very much and are remembered by their families. And with each symbolic item, Sergeant Harmon told the audience to also ... remember.