NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Freedom Park here will be the location for this year’s National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony scheduled for Sept. 20.
The aim of the event, which is held on the third Friday of every September, is to honor former and current American prisoners of war and remember service members still missing in action.
“It’s a day of remembrance and a day of thanks,” said Capt. Megan Kell, 561st Joint Tactics Squadron chief of information operations integration and the ceremony’s project officer. “Often we get caught up in our busy lives and tend to forget what some people have gone through to secure the freedoms that we have.”
Beginning at 9 a.m., the ceremony will feature a wreath ceremony, a memorial invocation, a 21-Gun Salute by the Nellis AFB Honor Guard, and a ceremonial missing-man fly-over performed by pilots from the 65th Aggressor Squadron. Col. Peter Ford, 57th Adversary Tactics Group commander, will be the guest speaker.
According the Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, more than 83,000 Americans are still missing from service during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.
“If they hadn’t sacrificed what they had and been willing to risk themselves like they did, we may not have the same freedoms that we enjoy today,” Kell said. “The looming shadow over the day of course is the fact that there are still a lot of [service members] out there missing, and we want them to know they’re not forgotten.”
Following the fly-over at the conclusion of the ceremony, activity will shift to The Club for a reception where members of the Nellis community can interact with former POWs and their families.
“It will be a time to communicate our pride,” Kell said. “It’s all about thanking those who are still here , remembering those who aren’t here, and letting their families know that we’re still thankful for everything that they’ve given us”
Most major volunteer positions are filled; however, organizers are still seeking motivated individual) to assist in set-up and tear-down efforts.
People interested in volunteering can call Capt. Amanda McFeeters at (702-652-5994 by Sept. 9.