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JBSA-Randolph POW/MIA ceremony takes place today

By Alex Salinas | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Sept. 19, 2012

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — All with Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph access are encouraged to attend the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action retreat ceremony, an event on behalf of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 5 p.m. today at the Missing Man Monument.

The ceremony will be hosted by Army Col. James Chevallier, JBSA deputy commander and 502nd Air Base Wing vice commander.

The speaker, retired Air Force Col. (Dr.) Thomas McNish, was a captain when he was shot down near Hanoi, North Vietnam's capital, Sept. 4, 1966.

McNish was held as a POW for the next six and a half years until he was repatriated March 4, 1973.

The ceremony will include a moment of remembrance followed by a laying of the wreath, a 21-gun salute, renditions of "Taps" and the national anthem by the Air Force Band of the West bugler, and a fly-by from the 12th Flying Training Wing.

"It's a pleasure to be able to honor POWs and the guys who never made it back home, and it's our responsibility to continue the tradition of honoring them," 1st Lt. Joshua Frederick, the ceremony's event coordinator from the 902nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, said.

The ceremony is slated to last 20-30 minutes, but there will be time afterward for attendees to mingle with veterans, Frederick said.

"We don't want to lose the connection with POWs and their stories," Capt. Amber Ortiz, Air Force Personnel Center Company Grade Officer Council vice president, said. "It's a reality check for many of us and it's also a great opportunity to identify with others who wore the same uniforms as us.

"It's exciting to bring people within JBSA together and to bring different generations together. We really hope to see great community attendance and support."

One can expect to see representation from various local organizations at the ceremony.

"We'll be extending an invitation to veteran organizations (such as the San Antonio River Rats) in the community," Ortiz said. "We mostly expect attendance from those across JBSA, but we're hoping to get local veterans to join us."

For more information, contact Ortiz at amber.ortiz@us.af.mil or Frederick at joshua.frederick.6@us.af.mil.