No one was more surprised than Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carl Wright when approximately 300 individuals showed up to stand in formation at the pretty much spontaneously planned POW/MIA ceremony held last year. When the Hill Air Force Base installation chaplain had contacted Ogden Air Logistics Center and 75th Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Candler about the lack of such a ceremony, he was met with the response that such a ceremony was definitely in order.
When contacted about this year's upcoming ceremony, Wright said he wants to resist the urge to institutionalize or overly formalize the ceremony because too often that is the first response to such an occasion. Wright has had very positive reactions to the simplicity of last year's ceremony as those present paused, "to remember our military members who are lost. It speaks for itself," he said.
The heart-warming participation last year at the ceremony was also somewhat surprising as the only publicity the event had been given was a flier distributed the week before on base. "It says something about our patriotism," Wright said. "And it shows how our Air Force family is important to people." The response to that sentiment runs deep, he said. "It was a spontaneous act of love."
This year's ceremony on Friday, Sept. 18, calls for an assembly at 7:15 a.m., formation at 7:25 for "Parade Rest." Reveille follows at 7:30 a.m., and at 7:32 Chaplain Wright will read the presidential proclamation and prayer. The ceremony will be led by the two command chiefs at Hill Air Force Base, Chief Candler and 388th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Atticus Smith. The formation will be led by Tech. Sgt. Patricia McCrary, former FTAC instructor.
A new feature this year links the event to the Dining Out at the BORTA scheduled on the same day to note the 62nd Air Force anniversary. Teams of four Airmen will take turns standing watch in memory of all POWs and MIAs of the Armed Services of the United States of America, in successive watches of one hour. Every 15 minutes, two Airmen will relieve each other until the next four-man team arrives.
At 4:45 p.m., at the end of the last watch, a flame will be taken from Memorial Park to the BORTA to be placed at the POW/MIA Table in time for the start of the Team Hill Dining Out. Anyone who wants to participate in the Team Hill Dining Out should see their first sergeant for tickets.