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September 27, 2013

Luke commemorates POW/MIA day

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Stephen Delgado
Thunderbolt staff writer

Former POW retired Brig. Gen. Tom Browning speaks with members of the Luke Air Force Base community Sept. 20 during the Annual POW/MIA Recognition ceremony at Luke Air Force Base. The event occurs every year on the third Friday of September. It honors prisoners of war and recognizes military members missing in action.

Many Americans often take their freedom for granted. They have the feeling that this gift was always there and forget the profound price paid for freedom.

An event was held at Luke Air Force Base Sept. 20 that served as a reminder that a high price was, and still is being paid for the freedoms we enjoy.

Nearly 200 people attended the annual POW/MIA Recognition Day Retreat ceremony in the front of the wing headquarters building.

The prestigious guest list included the guest speaker, retired Brig. Gen. Tom Browning, former prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and former 58th Fighter Wing commander.

Other guests included two surviving Tuskegee Airmen, retired Lt. Col. Asa Herring and Bob Ashby, two World War II POWs, retired Chief Master Sgts. Harold Berghower and Frank Burns.

The Luke contingent was led by Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 56th FW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. David Staton, 58th FW command chief.

Browning’s father was a prisoner of war in World War II. He took the opportunity in his remarks to remind the audience to have faith in the strength and values of America.

He said that most Americans have a hard time imagining being in a POW camp.

“It is easy to think, ‘there but for the grace of God go I,’ but in my case it was me,” Browning said.

It is hard to fathom that in a POW camp, often the prisoner can have no communication with other Americans for months or even years, he continued.

What’s more, he noted this year marks the 40th anniversary of the coming home of many of the Vietnam War POWs and reminded the audience that it is important to support the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is not unusual for these vets to find their former selves missing in action,” Browning said.
Furthermore, Rothstein’s remarks emphasized the importance of remembering the face of a POW and the name of a person missing in action.

He suggested doing a computer search for the name of a person who is missing in action or was a POW.
Master Sgt. Simone Howard, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron section chief of central storage, was the master of ceremonies, and trumpeter Carl Eckhardt played Retreat and ended the ceremony with Taps.

To date there are 1,800 service members who are missing from the Vietnam War, more than 8,000 from the Korean War and nearly 8,000 from World War II.




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