News: Whiteman Warriors honor POW/MIA
Story by Staff Sgt. Brigitte Brantley
WARRENSBURG, Mo. - Team Whiteman held a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony Sept. 5, 2013, in honor of the men and women listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.
In attendance was retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Charles Seibert, who spent 548 days as POW in Germany during World War II before being liberated by American forces.
“We are in the presence of a great American hero,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing commander. “For more than 200 years, our nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen and Airmen have been fighting on the behalf of the principles that make this country great. The majority of these Service members have returned home to family and friends when their service was complete. Others, however, were not so fortunate.”
Seibert was just 19 years old during his second mission as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress when the plane experienced technical difficulties and was forced to the ground. He and his fellow crew members were captured right away.
“It’s such an honor to be in the presence of a real POW,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lindsey Reichling, the assistant NCO in charge of knowledge operations at the 509th Communications Squadron. “When I was stationed in Afghanistan, I had a friend killed in action, so ceremonies like this are very meaningful to me.”
At the end of the ceremony, Bussiere lit a torch in remembrance of all those POW/MIA. The torch was carried for the next 24 hours by Whiteman Warriors as they ran around the lake at Ike Skelton Park on base.
“Our nation has known the heartbreak and loss that comes with hundreds of thousands of service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” said Bussiere. “For the next 24 hours, the men and women of Team Whiteman will honor those POW/MIAs from all of America’s conflicts. By taking time out of our day, we honor and remember our brothers and sisters in arms, whether they served 10, 50 or 200 years ago.
“By choosing to be out here, you have chosen to help us recognize their service and their sacrifice. You are helping keep faith with the compact our nation makes with all its service members -- that ‘You Are Not Forgotten.’”