Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s Desert Lightning Team hosted a ceremony in honor of U.S. prisoners of war and service members missing in action at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 15.
The ceremony was held in accordance with the 2017 National POW/MIA Recognition Day to honor U.S. prisoners of war, missing service members and their families.
The event began with opening remarks from Col. Scott Campbell, 355th Fighter Wing commander.
“Today is a very special day and a very sobering reminder that we continue to strive and account for all of our service members,” said Campbell. “The greatest generation – which is our WWII vets – got through it with strength of character, and I think it’s a testament to all of our prisoners, especially during that time frame, to survive that kind of captivity and treatment.”
After the ceremony, former World War II Walter Ram, delivered a speech to the audience a speech about his experience as a POW.
Ram enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Corps at the age of 16 and served as a B-17E radio operator and gunner for nearly five years. During his sixth bombing mission, Ram and the rest of his aircrew were shot down in Kiel, Germany, where he began his year and a half as a POW.
“I believe more people should know what a lot of us went through,” Ram said. “It would make them appreciate more of what they have and (it would) make them appreciate something they don’t know they have – that’s freedom. They can never appreciate it like I do because I know what it’s like to be without it.”
After Germany’s decision to surrender and release its U.S. prisoners, Ram found himself on U.S. soil in New York City.
“It was so great, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Ram said. “It was unbelievable. It felt like a dream come true.”
The ceremony concluded with Campbell presenting Ram with a POW/MIA flag.