POW/MIA soldiers honored and remembered
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -
Held every year on the Third Friday of September, military prisoners of war and those missing in action were remembered in a ceremony held Saturday in Ocala.
“Freedoms not free it comes with a price,” said speaker Dorothy Antonelli at Ocala’s recognition ceremony. “Let us never forget our prisoners of war and those missing in action who paid the price.”
It was said there are still 81,000 soldiers still missing across 46 countries from every war since WWII to today.
“A lot of prisoners of war did not make it back to the United States,” said Director of Veteran Services for Marion County Jeffrey Askew. “Those missing in action, their families don’t have any closure. So we need some of that closure and they’re still looking to find some of those missing in actions.”
“If you go to their homes their momma and daddy, they still have their picture of them at 18 years old or 19 years old,” said Vietnam veteran and purple heart recipient Lewis Alston. “That’s their memories and it’s one way we let them know we haven’t forgotten them and we will never forget them.”
Alston remembers getting the call in the field to try and rescue prisoners of war but said even using every tactic they could,
“You stop taking a shower. I know it sounds a little strange but the reason why is you needed an edge. We showered with safeguard soap and in the jungles which we called the bush they could smell us.”
They never got there in time, which is why ceremonies like the setting of the missing man table is so important.
“No matter where I’m at or when I see it at I always stop and salute the POW/MIA table because I haven’t forgotten you,” said Alston. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to bring you home but I will never forget you.”
The ceremony concluded with a rendition of Amazing Grace followed by Taps.
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