By L. Cunningham, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 31, 2021
Official file photo. A Team Offutt member participates in the POW/MIA Remembrance Run Sept. 18, 2019, at the parade grounds on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This annual event is sponsored by the Air Force Sergeants Association to honor and remember those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing in the defense of our nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)
Official file photo. Members of the Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Honor Guard raise the prisoner of war/missing in action flag over the parade grounds on July 1, 2021. Offutt will honor National POW/MIA Recognition Day on Sept. 17 this year with a remembrance run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kristen Allen)
Freedom and the liberties we enjoy come at a cost. The price is great. Imagine being held captive behind barbed wire in unsanitary conditions, while being severely tortured and starved.
This nation’s commitment to resolve the fate of many Americans that were held as prisoners of war or classified as missing in action is represented by the POW/MIA flag.
The flag was designed by World War II veteran Newt Heisley in 1972. It is primarily black and has the emblem of the National League of POW/MIA Families - a black and white disk bearing a black silhouette representing a prisoner of war before a guarded watch tower and a barbed wire fence. Above the disk are the white letters POW/MIA split by a white star, and below is a black and white wreath above the words, “YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.”
The annual 24-hour remembrance run will be held Sept. 17, which is designated as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
This event is sponsored by the Air Force Sergeants Association each year.
“Our organization is dedicated to championing quality of life issues for all uniformed service members, including our POW/MIA families in all branches past, present and future,” said Tech. Sgt. Diane Balmer, AFSA Chapter 984 president. “We are proud to be able to honor those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing in the defense of our nation.”
The official opening ceremony is at 8 a.m. and the run begins at 9 a.m. and will continue for 24 hours.
It is open to individual runners, squadrons and DoD ID card holders. Membership in the AFSA is not required to participate.
“By keeping the POW/MIA flag in motion for 24 hours, it signifies our commitment to remember their sacrifice and to never forget them,” said Tech. Sgt. Jackie Holcomb III, AFSA 5/6 liaison. “It honors our service members who were prisoners of war and those still missing in action.”
Sign up for this event at the following webpage:
The AFSA also sponsors the yearly POW/MIA luncheon. Due to COVID and the HPCON Bravo+ status, this year’s luncheon has been cancelled.