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NEWS | Sept. 16, 2011

Base ceremony highlights POW/MIA Recognition Day

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

Randolph Air Force Base has long honored the sacrifices of the Freedom Flyers, the Air Force pilots who endured the horrors of prisoner-of-war camps like the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War.

Today, the 12th Flying Training Wing and the rest of the base community will pay tribute to all Americans who suffered as POWs in distant lands and those who are missing in action during the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at 5:15 p.m. at the Missing Man Monument on Washington Circle.

"National POW/MIA Recognition Day is an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the unique sacrifices POWs, MIAs and their families have made for our country," Lt. Col. Mark Lewis, event spokesman, said.

The ceremony will feature a wreath-laying ceremony, a missing man flyby and remarks by Col. Richard Murphy, 12th FTW commander.

Traffic will be rerouted around Washington Circle beginning at 4 p.m., so delays and road closures are expected.

Lewis said organizations on base that have a National League of POW/MIA Families POW/MIA flag may fly the banner that day. The flag, a symbol of national commitment to American POWs and MIAs, may be flown on five other days, according to Congressional mandate - Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

The commitment is evidenced by an ongoing effort by Department of Defense specialists to search foreign battlefields and burial sites, interview witnesses and search national and international archives for information about those missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts.

POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September each year, was created by Congressional resolution in July 1979 and is proclaimed by the president each year. Observances are conducted on military installations and ships at sea and at state capitols, schools and veterans' facilities.

Lewis said it is important for Americans to observe National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

"The incredible sacrifices made by POWs, MIAs and their families deserve special recognition," he said. "POW/MIA Recognition Day is our opportunity to honor their service to our nation."