IWAKUNI, Japan -Marines, sailors, retirees and station residents gathered at the Vietnam Memorial here Sept. 21, 2012, to pay respect to prisoners
of war and those still missing in action from wars and conflicts throughout the years.
The ceremony is an annual event held every third Friday of September and is put together by the unofficial retirees association
aboard station for The United States National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. This recognition started in
the late 1970s.
“We had a reception for prisoners of war and those missing in action that have been in captivity and are still being held or still
missing,” said David L. Daggett, master of ceremonies for the POW and MIA memorial. “We wanted to show our support to their
families and loved ones.”
Nearly all military installations around the globe fly the National League of Families POW/MIA flag, which is a largely-recognized
symbol of those still missing or prisoners. The flag, designed in 1971, features a white disk with the silhouette of a young man with his head bowed, a watchtower with a guard on patrol and a strand of barbed wire, the letters POW/MIA with a white five pointed star separating them. Below the white disk is a white and black wreath above the motto “You Are Not Forgotten” written in white capital letters.
“This is an annual event to help us remember and keep us mindful of those whom have gone to war and given their lives,” said Cmdr. Dean Hoelz, Marine Aircraft Group 12 chaplain. “Those who remain prisoners and those who have yet to be found, we want the families to know that we will not stop looking. It helps bring closure to the families whom have loved ones still missing or have died. They want to know what has happened to them. We often say, ‘You don’t leave any one behind.’ So, it’s important that we bring them back to give them a proper burial back in the United States or unite them with their families.”
The MAG-12 color guard presented a marching of the colors to honor the event, and a memorial participant placed a bouquet at
the foot of the memorial.