Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan — The third Friday of every September is observed as National prisoners of war/missing in action Recognition Day. Service members deployed here observed this day and honored POWs/MIAs with a remembrance and retreat ceremony today and a 24-hour run earlier in the month.
The events allowed Service members and civilians time to pause and remember the sacrifices and service of those who were POWs, as well as those who are MIA, and their families.
“We gather as a reminder of our responsibility to stand behind those who served our nation,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Julazadeh, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “Because of their valor and selfless devotion to the protection of the country they love, our nation owes these great Americans a debt we can never fully repay.”
“Every person who has worn the uniform or fought in battle understands the nature of sacrifice,” said Julazadeh. “And as long as Americans are willing to fight for freedom, our destiny will involve sacrifice; sacrifice by those who serve and sacrifice by their loved ones.”
Currently there are more than 83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency works to provide the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel to their families and the nation.
“The search for these brave and courageous Americans continues and when found, they’re brought home,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Grengs, 455th AEW command chief. “The words, ‘You are not forgotten’ are stitched into the fabric of the (POW/MIA) flag. They describe our nation’s resolve in bringing home our own. Tomorrow, this flag (POW/MIA) will fly over U.S. government buildings, national cemeteries and war memorials as a solemn reminder of our obligation to always remember the sacrifices that our POW/MIA service members made in defense of our nation.”
Although the National POW/MIA Recognition Day is only one day a year, the Department of Defense will continue its mission throughout the year of “No one left behind.”
“The greatest honor America can give to its service members who are missing in action or remain POWs is to keep looking for them,” said Grengs. “And we will. You are not forgotten!”
For more information on POW/MIAs and the Department of Defense’s efforts to recover them, please visit the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website: http://www.dpaa.mil/.