RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Randolph community honored the heroes once taken as prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action during a retreat ceremony hosted by the 12th Flying Training Wing at the Missing Man Monument here Sept. 16.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday of September each year. On this day, Americans pause to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were prisoners of war and are missing in action and their families.
The observance featured a wreath-laying ceremony, a missing man formation flyby and a 21-gun salute performed by members of the Randolph Air Force Base Honor Guard.
"Today, we pay tribute to the husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who have not yet come home, and to the families they left behind," Col. Richard Murphy, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, said. "While the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command continues to search for the missing, there are more than 83,000 yet to be found. Today's special remembrance marks our continued acknowledgment of their sacrifice and our steadfast promise to work tirelessly until they are all home."
In attendance at the ceremony were two retired Air Force veterans and former POWs in North Vietnam camps, Lt. Col. Ramon Horinek, who was shot down in October 1967 and spent 65 months in captivity, and Lt. Col. Lauren Lengyel, who was shot down in August 1967 and spent 67 months as a prisoner.
"Their stories are ones of true heroism and bold patriotism," Murphy said. "Perhaps what is most extraordinary about them is not that they were POWs; rather it is their remarkable spirits."
Upon Horinek's return from Vietnam, he was quoted as saying, "I have lived by one motto and that is: I am an American fighting man. I will go where I must go, fight when I must fight, die if I must die, but I will never betray my God, my country, my president, my fellow countrymen and my fellow fighting men. I say never! Engrave these words on your hearts because that is what our country expects from each of us. I hope--I just hope and pray you are as proud of me as I am of you."