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    Officials Unveil Pentagon POW/MIA Exhibit

    Officials Unveil Pentagon POW/MIA Exhibit

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden | Michele Flournoy, the Defense Department's policy chief, talks about the importance of...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden 

    Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs           

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Defense Department officials today dedicated a portion of the Pentagon to military prisoners of war and troops missing in action, honoring one of the military's guiding principles: Never leave a comrade behind.

    Michele Flournoy, the Pentagon's policy chief, hosted the ceremony on the building's third floor, in Ring A between corridors 6 and 7.

    The hallway is lined with information, artifacts and photographs underscoring the service and sacrifice of more than 80,000 MIAs and POWs from the present conflict in Afghanistan and dating back to World War II.

    "No matter how far away or how long ago, we will do everything humanly possible to bring all those missing service members home," Flournoy said. "We do this for the sake of their family members, and we also do this for all who serve today."

    The display exhibit was designed in the corridor, because thousands of people -- service members, defense civilians and tourists -- walk through it each year, Flournoy said. The exhibit's location, she added, underscores the importance the Defense Department places on recovering prisoners of war and those missing in action.

    "As we stand here today," she said, "many thousands of servicemen and women are deployed around the world in harm's way. And in the days and years to come, some of them will give their lives to their country. Some of them may fall into enemy hands.

    "Part of what enables our men and women to focus on accomplishing their mission in harsh and dangerous environments is the knowledge that we will do whatever it takes to bring them home," she continued.

    World War II Army Air Corps pilot Jerry Wolf was one such service member. His reconnaissance plane was shot down in 1946 over Germany. Although he survived the crash, he spent 11 months in a German prison, he said.

    Wolf noted that World War II veterans soon will be extinct, and displays such as the Pentagon corridor will help their legacy and service live on forever.

    "I think the exhibit is a wonderful beginning, and the recognition is great," Wolf said, adding that he donated several letters he wrote while in the prison camp and other artifacts to the display. "It's wonderful to be noted for your service and being an ex-prisoner of war.

    Retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert Shumaker is another former POW who attended the dedication ceremony. His fighter plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He spent eight years and one day in a prison camp, three of which were spent in solitary confinement.

    "Sometimes you don't have a choice," Shumaker said. "When an airplane crashes, it crashes. It's a terrible feeling, [but] I always knew that I'd never be forgotten by the American people."

    In the past year, the Joint Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command has accounted for 98 service members missing from the Korean War, the Vietnam War and World War II.

    More than 80,000 service members from the three wars remain unaccounted-for. Nearly 2,000 from the same wars have been accounted for and returned to their families.

    The nation will celebrate National POW/ MIA Recognition Day Sept. 17. Created by Congress in 1998 as part of the Defense Authorization Act, the observance is recognized on the third Friday of September each year.



    Date Taken: 09.15.2010
    Date Posted: 09.15.2010 18:14
    Story ID: 56334
    Location: WASHINGTON, DC, US 

    Web Views: 84
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