Never forget the sacrifices of our POWs, MIAs

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Russell Kuck
  • 62nd Airlift Wing command chief master sergeant

At many Air Force formal ceremonies, a small table sits off to the side dressed in a white tablecloth and set for one. It is reserved to honor 's prisoners of war or those missing in action.

While the table itself is simple reminder of those who answered our country's call to serve, it symbolizes an entire nation's resolve to never forget their sacrifices.

That commitment is further reinforced each year during a national POW/MIA day usually held on the third Friday in September. We as a military community will come together during a luncheon to commemorate this day on Thursday.

Although the day is remembered in a variety of events across the county, the core message remains as simple as that empty table ... we will not forget.  

As a young Airman, I was roommates with a former Vietnam War POW. He was a technical sergeant and while he had been held for a few months before escaping, what he endured during that experience affected him for a lifetime ... he can never forget. 

For all the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors Marines and civilians who suffered unimaginable hardships as POWs, as well as those still unaccounted for from military conflicts around the globe, our one day of remembrance should serve to reinforce our lifetime commitment to them, our comrades in arms.

Each time you see that empty table, you are honoring servicemembers like Capt. Lance Sijan's and his long fight for freedom during the Vietnam War, and Tech. Sgt. Henry Kortebein, missing in action from World War II and returned to his family for burial with full military honors just last month.

For them, let the words that accompany that simple POW/MIA ceremony resonate within you each and every time, strengthening your promise to always remember. Hooah!