JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
The phrase “You Are Not Forgotten” is commonly used during Prisoner of War and Missing in Action ceremonies across the U.S., but for many the meaning goes beyond the ceremonies. For them, it’s a reminder of the sacrifices their fathers, mothers, sons or daughters have made and are making to ensure the safety of America’s freedoms.
“In the Air Force, part of our creed is ‘never leave an Airman behind’ and although it says Airmen it means other service members as well,” said Staff Sgt. Sabrina Bell, one of this year’s POW/MIA week coordinators. “It’s important that we take time to remember those service members who came before us who did not, and still have not, returned home.”
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September, which is Sept. 21, this year.
The day became an official observance in 1979 after families of more than 2,500 POW/MIAs pushed to have their loved ones accounted for. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 82,478 service members who fought in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and subsequent conflicts are still missing.
To honor those service members, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph held a remembrance week leading up to the day of recognition.
The events throughout the week included a wreath-laying ceremony and vigil at the Missing Man Monument and a 5K run/walk.
“This week is to remember those comrades who did not return home,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Byrd, a POW/MIA week coordinator. “To coordinate such a commemorative event gives me more reason to be in the Air Force. It’s not just about volunteering, it’s remembering our brothers and sisters who are not accounted for and showing support for their families.”
To further honor those service members, JBSA along with other various military instillations flew the POW/MIA flag with the national flag.