Incirlik Air Base holds 24-hour POW/MIA remembrance events

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Many came home. Some did not. There are more than 83,000 American prisoners of war and missing in action service members, and many families left behind who are still waiting and wondering.

To honor those military men and women, and their families, the 39th Air Base Wing held a 24-hour POW/MIA remembrance run, name reading, missing man table and ceremony Sept. 14-15 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

“Although some may forget, we will never forget that freedom is not free,” said Col. Michael Rimsky, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander. “It is purchased every day by the sweat, and if necessary, life blood of the American military, her allies and those who support her.”

Volunteers ran in thirty minute intervals while carrying the POW/MIA guidon. The guidon was passed among participants without pause to symbolize everlasting concern for missing comrades and loved ones.

“The event is 24 hours because they [POW/MIA] stayed up countless hours surviving, or devising plans to escape,” said Staff Sergeant Keith L. Washington Jr., 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron customer support supervisor, during the event. “We’re thanking them for their unwavering sacrifice.”

Washington, who was part of the United Nations Honor Guard Team, performed repatriation ceremonies in the Pacific Theatre for fallen troops, and touched on what carrying the guidon during the event meant for him.

“Carrying the flag was a good way to start the morning off and see the whole unit building cohesiveness,” Washington said. “It educated them on what POW/MIA is. You always hear about it, you always read the articles, but…what did they do? How did they endure?”

During the closing ceremony, Rimsky addressed the importance of POW/MIA service members.

“Where there is sacrifice, there is purpose,” Rimsky said. “Let us never forget our POW, MIAs, allies and others who now carry the wounds of war or who made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of freedom. On behalf of a grateful nation and world, I say, you are not forgotten.”