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Team Offutt honors POW/MIA Day in week of remembrance

Guest speaker Dr. Aelwen Wetherby, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, speaks at a POW/MIA Remembrance Luncheon Sept. 19 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The Remembrance luncheon was sponsored by the Air Force Sergeants Association chapter here at Offutt AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

Guest speaker Dr. Aelwen Wetherby, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, speaks at a POW/MIA Remembrance Luncheon Sept. 19 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The Remembrance luncheon was sponsored by the Air Force Sergeants Association chapter here at Offutt AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sherri LeVan, 55th Wing vice commander, says closing remarks during the POW/MIA Remembrance Luncheon Sept. 19, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The third Friday of September is dedicated as POW/MIA Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sherri LeVan, 55th Wing vice commander, says closing remarks during the POW/MIA Remembrance Luncheon Sept. 19, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The third Friday of September is dedicated as POW/MIA Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 55th Wing command chief, listens to U.S. Air Force Colonel Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, give opening remarks, during the POW/MIA 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Many Americans across the United States pause on the third Friday of September each year to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were POWs as well as those who are MIA and their families. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 55th Wing command chief, listens to U.S. Air Force Colonel Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, give opening remarks, during the POW/MIA 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Many Americans across the United States pause on the third Friday of September each year to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were POWs as well as those who are MIA and their families. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

Airman 1st Class Abdulmajid Oamen, 55th Force Support Squadron food service journeymen, runs with the POW/MIA flag during the POW/MIA 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Many Americans across the United States pause on the third Friday of September each year to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were POWs as well as those who are MIA and their families. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

Airman 1st Class Abdulmajid Oamen, 55th Force Support Squadron food service journeymen, runs with the POW/MIA flag during the POW/MIA 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Many Americans across the United States pause on the third Friday of September each year to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were POWs as well as those who are MIA and their families. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Green, 373rd Training Squadron instrument flight control systems instruction, carries the POW/MIA flag during the POW/MIA l 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The United States’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Green, 373rd Training Squadron instrument flight control systems instruction, carries the POW/MIA flag during the POW/MIA l 24-Hour Vigil Run Sept. 14, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The United States’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The third Friday of September is observed as POW/MIA Recognition Day across the U.S. each year. For 2018, the day fell on Sept. 21. Team Offutt gathered to celebrate and remember the sacrifices of prisoners of war and those missing in action by holding a 24-hour vigil run Sept. 14, and a remembrance luncheon Sept. 19, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Air force Sergeants Association Chapter 984 organized and ran both events for the base.

At the vigil, runners carried a POW/MIA flag and kept it in motion for 24 consecutive hours at the base parade grounds.

Approximately 200 people showed up to participate, which is more than the amount who registered to run, said Staff Sgt. Christopher Frerichs, the event’s organizer.

Collectively, those who ran built up more than 600 miles during the 24 hour period of remembrance, Frerichs said.

The luncheon provided an additional opportunity to remember the sacrifices service members have made and what they went through.

As part of the luncheon, Dr. Aelwen Wetherby, a guest speaker from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, spoke on the mission of DPAA and the process of returning service members who are missing in action to their families.

To truly understand the gravity of POW/MIA day reflecting on the large number of those who have been listed as a POW or MIA may add clarity.

According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report on POWs:

  • 130,201 World War II service members were imprisoned; 14,072 them died
  • 7,140 Korean War service members were imprisoned; 2,701 of them died
  • 725 Vietnam War service members were imprisoned; 64 of them died
  • 37 service members were imprisoned during conflicts since 1991, including both Gulf wars; none are still in captivity

According to DPAA, more than 82,000 Americans who fought in the wars listed above are still missing, including:

  • 72,818 from World War II (an approximate number due to limited or conflicting data)
  • 7,680 from the Korean War
  • 1,594 from Vietnam
  • 126 from the Cold War
  • 5 from the Gulf Wars
  • 1 from Operation EL DORADO CANYON

“We just lost Senator McCain who was probably the most notable of recent (prisoners of war),” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Hennesy, AFSA member and 55th Force Support Squadron dining facility manager, “but I think it’s always good to remember them… and just realize the sacrifice because we have it easy now, and what they go through is true sacrifice.”