By Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
“We will never forget.” This has been the message instilled to Team Schriever members as they honored prisoners of war and those still missing in action during remembrance week Sept. 15-19.
According to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office, more than 83,000 Americans are still missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.
Capt. Jared Grady, 1st Space Operations Squadron, and a team of nearly 10 volunteers spent months coordinating the week’s events.
“We aimed to pay homage and respect to the real heroes who served our country,” said Grady. “It was an opportunity for Schriever members to take a moment to remember and learn something new.”
The base kicked off the remembrance week with reveille Sept. 15 at the 50th Space Wing Headquarters. During the event, the base paid its respects to the POW/MIA flag.
Col. Bill Liquori, 50th Space Wing commander, said the ceremony was a great way to start the week.
“Watching the base in formation and having the opportunity to raise the POW/MIA flag was a percfect way to begin the remembrance week,” said Liquori.
Following reveille, the wing held a kick-off ceremony with guest speaker retired Col. Paul K. Robinson, former POW. He shared his personal experiences as a POW. Despite his experiences Robinson spoke with optimism and humor. He also shared photos and newspaper clippings from throughout his career after the ceremony.
“We will remember and we will not forget our prisoners of war and those still missing in action,” said Liquori.
He added that Robinson’s words were inspiring, but more so were his actions and bravery.
“We are proud to be Airmen with you,” he said. “The effects the men and women of Schriever Air Force Base are delivering hopefully ensure that we have far fewer instances of what you endured.”
The week also included a vigil where Schriever Airmen read aloud the names of those missing in action every morning and afternoon at the north and west portals.
“We called out the names of those still MIA as a reminder that they are not forgotten,” said Liquori.
Schriever members also conducted a 24-hour vigil run, where more than 150 people participated and completed nearly 120 miles.
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Emerson, 50th Space Wing, was part of the first team who ran with the POW/MIA flag.
“This was a great opportunity to take time out of my day for a cause greater than myself,” said Emerson.
She said listening to the guest speakers’ recount their experiences as POWs put things in perspective for her.
“It was touching to hear how they survived,” said Emerson. “It is almost unbelievable.”
Prior to the run, Schriever members concluded the week during a ceremony with former prisoner of war, retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Ed Beck as the guest speaker.
In 1944, Beck, a POW during World War II, managed to escape after six months in captivity. He stressed the importance of talking about his time as a POW despite the difficulty.
“If we don’t talk about it, then no one will ever know,” said Beck. “God bless the United States and those who keep it free.”
Liquori thanked Beck for sharing his experience and invited him back again next year.
“This was a phenomenal week that is important to us every single year,” said Liquori. “A week that is designed to remember the sacrifices of prisoners of war and missing in action. We recognize your sacrifice and thank you.”