Ceremony remembers POW/MIAs near and far as Airmen form ranks

Ceremony remembers POW/MIAs near and far as Airmen form ranks

More than 300 airmen stood solemnly in the early morning sun as a tribute to fellow service members past and present who never returned home from war.

Early Friday morning, Hill Air Force Base held a special ceremony honoring individuals declared prisoners of war or missing in action.

The ceremony, at the base's Memorial Park, began with a Reveille formation and was followed by a prayer and proclamation reading by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carl Wright, installation chaplain.

After the ceremony, four-man teams of airmen stood watch at the park throughout the day, reading off names of all individuals declared POW/MIA. "Some might say, 'Why do this year after year?'ââ" Wright said.

"But we have to do it. We are here because they are not."

Sept. 18 was National POW/MIA Recognition Day all over the United States. Observances were held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitals, schools and veterans' facilities.

"This is the least we could do," said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Candler, who was on the first name-reading shift early in the morning. "The issue with us is, we could very easily be in their shoes. So until all of them either come home or are accounted for, we won't rest."

As home to many different operational and support missions, Hill deploys about 5,200 airman annually.

"We are so focused on casualties, it can be easy to forget the literally thousands of POW and MIAs that are out there," Wright said.

"But we have to remember their sacrifices. It's personal for us because Hill deploys as much as any base out there. The reality is, it could be one of us."

The POW/MIA observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families' POW/MIA flag.

The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

The flag is flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, and war memorials.

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