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Never forgetting the missing

Colonel Rodney Thomas, U.S Army retired, during an introduction ceremony held Feb. 20 at Patriots Landing in Dupont for the center’s new Fallen Comrade Table. Photo credit: Patriots Landing Residents Association

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Those missing in action or who served as prisoners of war were honored during a ceremony at Patriots Landing last month, which also paved the way to represent the new Space Force as well.

The retirement community presented a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) table as part of a solution to add the Space Force to an existing "salute" at the center.

According to a press release, when the center decided to represent the Space Force inside, the previous five military branch flags, and the POW/MIA flag made up a flag salute. Because there wasn't room to add the Space Force, it was decided to move the POW/MIA honor to a table, and replace it with the Space Force.

The new MIA/POW table was organized by three governors of Patriot Landing's Residents Association: Colonel Rodney Thomas, U.S Army retired; Colonel Paul Knoop, U.S. Army retired; and Colonel Ian Larson, U.S. Army Retired. Adding the table allowed the center to replace the MIA/POW in another part of the room with the new Space Force flag.

The trio met while serving their final duty assignments at Fort Lewis, prior to its merge with McChord Air Force Base in 2010, and they continue to serve their fellow service members into retirement.

The colonels, affectionately referred to as "The Three Stooges" by other residents, noted that Patriots Landing's flag display no longer represented the U.S. Armed Forces' full range of service branches, with the recent addition of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) in 2019.

Patriots Landing stepped in to purchase the newest flag. The need for POW/MIA representation does not only stem from a sense of patriotic duty to honor the men and women who have defended our freedoms; among the residents there are real, tangible examples of that sacrifice.

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Robert Rudisill, U.S. Army Retired, spent three years as a prisoner of Camp 5 in Pyoktong, North Korea. After his release in 1953, he continued to serve until his retirement from Fort Lewis in 1968. SFC Rudisill was unable to attend the ceremony, but his story adds palpability to the memorial.

Also in attendance was Dennis Bernardy, nephew of Corporal Alfred Bernardy, whose name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. Cpl. Bernardy was listed as Missing in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea in 1950. Dennis contributes to the JBLM chapter of Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

Once the decision was made to install a traditional POW/MIA table at Patriots Landing, the colonels organized the dedication ceremony. After selecting President's Day for the ceremony, Chaplain Larry Barry, U.S. Army Retired, was chosen to present the ceremony, while colonels Thomas, Knoop, and Larson presented the various aspects of the traditional POW/MIA Table, and their symbolic meanings.

PARTIOTS LANDING, 1600 Marshall Circle, DuPont, 253.948.3180.

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