Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

September 21, 2017 at 10:38am

Team McChord airmen honor prisoners of war

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Yeomans, Air Force Sergeants Association president, gives a speech during the POW/MIA wreath laying ceremony Sept. 11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Divine Cox

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Team McChord airmen participated in POW/MIA week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 11-15 honoring all prisoners of war and those missing in action through daily remembrance events.  

The week's events included a wreath laying ceremony, motorcycle ride, 24-hour run and remembrance luncheon.  

An annual tradition at JBLM, POW/MIA week brings together airmen from all over JBLM to honor, remember and commemorate the service and sacrifice of POWs and those MIA. This year, more than 400 airmen participated in the different events that were put on by more than 70 volunteers.  

The week kicked off Sept. 11 with a wreath laying ceremony at Memorial Grove Park on McChord Field. The laying of the wreath was to reflect on and remember those POWs and MIAs who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"It's an absolute honor to remember these POWs," said Col. William Percival, 627th Air Base Group commander. "This is our heritage and this honors really who we are."      

The second event to take place during POW/MIA week was the POW/MIA Remembrance Ride Sept. 12 in Tacoma. More than 20 motorcyclists participated in the ride from Sprinker Park, Tacoma, to Orting Soldiers Home in Orting.    

One of the largest attended events was the POW/MIA Remembrance 24-hour run Sept. 13 through Sept. 14 at the McChord Field track.  

More than 300 airmen, soldiers and civilians ran continuous laps around the McChord Track from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday. A POW/MIA flag was carried by various participants throughout 24 hours. Participants ran a combined total of 14,159 laps and 3,540 miles.       

"This is a remarkable group of people here, that as busy as they are with the service they already bring to our nation each and every day, took this time to be so vigilant and honor POWs/MIAs," said Col. Reba Sonkiss, 62nd Airlift commander. "A hearty thank you to all the Team McChord folks who put this together and all of JBLM."  

The week concluded with a POW/MIA Remembrance Day Luncheon held on Sept. 15 at the McChord Field Club. The luncheon hosted 13 former POWs from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam Conflict.  

The event's guest speaker was retired Maj. Joseph Crecca, former Vietnam War POW. Crecca told his story of being held captive as a POW for 2,280 days from November 1966 until his release in February 1973.  

"It is a great honor to host each of you," said Col. Percival. "It's truly an honor to dedicate ourselves to remembering your service and sacrifice."

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