News: Service members run to honor POW's, MIA's
Story by Pfc. J Nava
OKINAWA, Japan - The first commemoration in honor of American Prisoners of War or service members deemed Missing in Action was held July 18, 1979. In 1986 the date for POW/MIA Recognition Day was officially set to the third Friday in September and has been proclaimed every year henceforth by the president of the United States.
This year, service members on Kadena Air Base and Camp Hansen conducted runs to honor past and present service members designated as POW or MIA.
On Kadena, service members took turns running around a track for 24 hours while carrying a POW/MIA flag. The event began at 6 a.m. Sept. 16 and continued until 6 a.m. the next morning, with several units from Kadena taking a turn to run with the flag. The 24-hour commemoration ended with a ceremony and breakfast.
"Events like this are important because it’s easy for people to put POWs in the back of their minds," said Steve Gambert, aircraft load planner and joint inspector with 733rd Air Mobility Squadron on Kadena.
"When people see this [type of event], they know that when they go down range they won’t ever be forgotten."
As a member of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, Gambert helps support Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command, missions throughout Asia.
Service Members on Camp Hansen commemorated the day with a five-kilometer run around the base on the morning of Sept. 17. More than 200 hundred people from Camps Courtney, Schwab and Hansen participated in the run designed to honor POW/MIAs.
"I ran today because I wanted to show my support for the people who haven’t come home yet," said Pfc. Darius Johnson, administrative clerk, 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and participant in the run. It’s important for service members to honor the memory of POW's and service members MIA because of what they sacrificed, Johnson added.