By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The third Friday in September has marked the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action commemoration for the past 25 years. Though the original recognition ceremony first began in 1979, it wasn’t until seven years later that the current September date was set. The purpose of the event, to honor America’s service members who were/are prisoners of war and those still missing and unaccounted for from our nation’s wars, has remained the same throughout the years. Team Schriever members plan to recognize POW/MIA day with weeklong events culminating with a Remembrance Ceremony here Sept. 16.
You are not forgotten; the solemn phrase that lines the bottom of the stark black and white POW/MIA flag is the center of Schriever’s recognition events. Awareness and remembrance are the two concepts event coordinator, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Tucek, 50th Space Wing command chief’s executive assistant, are hoping Team Schriever members take from these events.
“In the past, we had just one day of events,” said Tucek. “This year, with the command chief’s guidance, we decided to commemorate with a week of events.”
The week kicks off Friday with Team Schriever volunteers handing out information and schedules for the following week as personnel exit the base. From Monday through Sept. 16 there will be a reveille ceremony, a POW/MIA Vigil, information tables, a retreat ceremony, a 24-hour run and a remembrance ceremony.
For Tucek, POW/MIA events always take on a more personal significance, especially this year’s vigil. During the event Sept. 13, volunteers will be at Bldg. 210 and the North and West portals from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. reading the names of POW/MIAs.
“My grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II,” said Tucek. “He was a prisoner at the Stalag 17B prison camp for Airmen. I think hearing the names of people, service members like us, who were prisoners of war and who are still missing in action will be pretty powerful.”
Another highlight of the week will be the 24-hour Remembrance Run immediately following the Sept. 15 Retreat Ceremony. Small teams will run a predetermined distance carrying the POW/MIA flag with the last team bringing the flag in to start the Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 16 in the base auditorium.
Though POW/MIA recognition is just one day a year the men and women at the Department of Defense Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel office focus on this mission daily.
According to the Department of Defense Prisoners of War/Missing Personnel office’s website, hundreds of Defense Department men and women — both military and civilian — operators and scientists, work in organizations around the world as part of DoD’s personnel recovery and personnel accounting communities. They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our missing personnel home.
A weeklong recognition event requires a lot of participation and volunteers. According to Tucek, Team Schriever members can still volunteer for any of the events. Potential volunteers should contact the point of contact associated with each event.
Friday: Operation Gate Guard, where volunteers from the base will hand out POW/MIA event flyers as personnel exit the base.
Monday: Reveille will be held at Bldg. 210 at 7:30 a.m. Uniform for members of the formation is short sleeve blue uniform, open collar. Please contact Staff Sgt. Dolly Frazier at 567-5158 to be a part of your group’s formation.
Tuesday 13: POW/MIA Vigil at Bldg. 210 and the North and West Portals from 6:30-8:30 a.m. Volunteers will read off names of those who are/were prisoners of war and still missing in action. Please contact Senior Airman Skyler White at 567-4480 to volunteer. Shifts are one-hour in length.
Wednesday: POW/MIA information tables set up at Bldg. 210 and the North and West portals from 6:30-8:30 a.m. and in front of the Satellite Dish Dining Facility from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be 200 POW/MIA rubber bracelets for sale at $1.50 each that members can buy. These bracelets are not authorized to be worn in uniform, but will still show your commitment to all POWs and MIAs. Please contact Airman 1st Class Daniel Cugler at 567-3898 to volunteer. Shifts are one hour in length.
Sept. 15: Retreat will start at Bldg. 210 at 9 a.m., with the 24-hour run with the POW/MIA Flag beginning immediately after retreat. Please contact Capt. Rhett Gasaway at 567-7468 to volunteer to be a part of your group’s formation and Capt. Jennifer Gunning at 567-7056 to volunteer for the run. Each running shift is 30 minutes.
Sept. 16: Remembrance Ceremony at the base auditorium in Bldg. 300. The ceremony will begin with the posting of the POW/MIA Flag at approximately 9:15 a.m. Please contact Tech. Sgt. Shale Norwitz at 567-2212 to volunteer for set up and tear down.