Last Modified: Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:30 PM
Today, Sept. 20, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day — a day to honor service members who were left behind in America’s wars and a day to recommit to the sacred duty of accounting for each one of them.
“Keeping the promise,” “Fulfill their trust” and “No one left behind” are among the pledges the Department of Defense has made to U.S. military personnel.
It is not always possible to bring everybody back from a major battle or military operation. But that doesn’t reduce our obligation as a nation to seek the fullest accounting for each person left behind.
According to the Defense Department, more than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the wars in Korean and Vietnam, the Cold War and the Gulf War.
The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office works to resolve each case. It partners with groups and experts worldwide, gathers and analyzes intelligence, checks archives and conducts field investigations — all in an effort to find those who never made it home.
A Louisiana native was accounted for this year from the Korean War — Sgt. Clement Thibodeaux Jr. of the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment. “(He) was lost on Nov. 28, 1950, near Ch’ongch’on River, North Korea,” reads the DPMO’s website. “He was accounted for June 13, 2013. He will be buried with full military honors in Church Point.”
Among the most recent recoveries, as listed on the DPMO’s site — http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
• 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird, U.S. Army Air Forces, 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron was lost in March, 1944, when his A-20G Havoc bomber crashed in Papua New Guinea. He was accounted for Aug. 28, 2013. He will be buried with full military honors Sept. 28, 2013, in Springville, Utah.
• Sgt. Melvin E. Wolfe, U.S. Army, K Company, 31st Regimental Combat Team, was lost Dec. 12, 1950, during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He was accounted for Aug. 26, 2013. He will be buried with full military honors Sept. 23, 2013, in Boulder City, Nev.
• Pfc. Ronald C. Huffman, U.S. Army, K Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was lost on Feb. 12, 1951, during a battle near Saemal, South Korea. He was accounted for on Aug. 8, 2013. He will be buried with full military honors in Princeton, W.Va.
Remember these men who were recently accounted for, and all those still missing. It is a sacred duty to bring them home, and we, as a nation, should rededicate ourselves to it today.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.