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POW, MIA recognition ceremony takes place Sept. 21

By Staff Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio | 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 21, 2007

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — On Sept. 21, members of Team Randolph will gather in front of the Missing Man Monument at 9 a.m. to pay respect to the men and women of the U.S. military who have given ultimate sacrifices for their country. 

Each year, the third Friday of September is designated as National Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Recognition Day. This year's remembrance event will include a wreath-laying ceremony, speeches from distinguished guests and the playing of taps in recognition of POWs and those who have not returned from previous wars. 

The ceremony will be led by Col. Richard Clark, 12th Flying Training Wing commander. Keynote speaker for the event will be retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Yuill, a former Vietnam POW. 

Colonel Yuill was born and grew up in Boswell, Indiana. He joined in the Air Force in 1954, completed navigator training and was commissioned in 1955. 

He was given a temporary-duty assignment to Guam and Thailand in April 1972 to fly missions over Vietnam as part of a B-52 crew. According to the colonel, during a mission over Hanoi, their aircraft was shot down and his crew was subsequently taken 
prisoner. 

"We had three lieutenant colonel crew members, which was unusual," Colonel Yuill said. "Our captors were excited when they realized they had captured an entire B-52 crew intact, especially with so many lieutenant colonels on it. We were heavily interrogated as a result." 

"I was threatened many times that my crew would be a 'show case' crew and tried as war criminals," he said. 

Colonel Yuill was held prisoner for a short period of time and said he received humane treatment. He feels that as a result of those two facts, there is no way to compare himself to those "real" POWs who were prisoners for many years. 

"I am honored to be associated with these men," he said. "I cannot say enough about their courage, faith and leadership." 

Colonel Yuill retired from the Air Force in April 1979. He and his wife Rose reside in Texas. 

The colonel's son, Mike, became an Air Force B-52 pilot. In 1991, the colonel had his Freedom Flight here and flew alongside his son. 

According to the Joint POW, MIA Accounting Command, one American is still missing from the Gulf War, more than 1,750 from the Vietnam War, 120 from the Cold War, more than 8,100 from the Korean War and more than 78,000 from World War II. 

The ceremony Sept. 21 is held in honor of these servicemembers and acts as a reminder never to forget.