The 355th Wing, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., held a POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony at the Pima Air and Space Museum Sept. 16, 2022.
The guest speaker was former prisoner of war Harvey Horn who served with the 772nd Bomber Squadron, 463rd Bomber Group, 15th Air Force based in Foggia, Italy, 1943-1945.
“My story is about 36 days that changed my life,” said Horn. “It’s a story of a Jewish boy from Brooklyn who dreamt of flying and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, it’s about survival.”
Horn recounted his story of being shot down and being held captive by German SS soldiers.
“Being captured by the Germans is not the best of times, being Jewish and captured by the Germans is the worst of times.”
Afterwards Horn was presented a ceremonial POW/MIA flag by U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Mills, 355th Wing commander. The flag had been carried during an honorary 5k that occurred earlier in the day at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
“You see this table and you hear those words at the beginning of every speech, and you’re moved,” said Mills. “You hear about the salt symbolizing tears and you feel the loss and grief for the families and the service member.”
In his closing remarks Mills challenged the audience to try looking past grief and instead do two things.
“Remember their courage, their sacrifice and their actions. That is what they want to be remembered for, not sadness but courage, toughness and standing alone when our nation called.”
The second thing that Mills asks is that we serve. “It’s too often that we link service with the uniform, but the fact is we are all called to serve the United States every day,” said Mills. “You don’t have to wear a uniform to do that. You just have to help someone else.”
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.