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POWs remembered at state capital

Airman 1st Class Wesley Arrambide, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, positions himself as the sentry while Staff Sgt. Justin Kenney, 90th MSFS, reads the names of prisoners of war and people missing in action during the 24 hour vigil for the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 21 at the state capital (Courtesy photo).

Airman 1st Class Wesley Arrambide, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, positions himself as the sentry while Staff Sgt. Justin Kenney, 90th MSFS, reads the names of prisoners of war and people missing in action during the 24 hour vigil for the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 21 at the state capital (Courtesy photo).

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- Past wars with American involvement have altered the mind-set of military members. The Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors that returned did not come back unscathed. Whether physically or mentally effected, their war stories depict the good, bad and ugly of those involved.

There were many who did not come back at all. Unaccounted for at the time, their history appeared to be unknown, and their story abruptly finished. Now, we know who they are and their history, and they are forever remembered.

Every third Friday in September is POW/MIA Recognition Day, when the missing fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are remembered and honored.

Warren participated in this year's recognition day with a 24-hour vigilance ceremony in front of the capital building in Cheyenne.

"This is one of the most significant factors that define our history as a military unit," said Senior Master Sgt. David Mclain, 90th Mission Operations Squadron and project lead. "We remember the people and families that never came home."

Three volunteers were in place for 30-minute intervals. One stood as a sentry, one read names of POWs from the Korean, Vietnam and Cold Wars and the supervisor made sure everything went smoothly.

"I had a lot of pride when I thought about these names and their families," said Master Sgt. Chris Campbell, 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron and Top 3 president. "It's the best way to pass on to Airmen now about how much we support the people that came before us and the sacrifices they made."

The idea for a 24-hour vigil started when members of the Top 3 brain-stormed for ways of possible participation. Tech Sgt. Stephen Hart, 90th Medical Operations Squadron, proposed the plan and teamed up with Sergeant Mclain to make it happen.

"This means something so much more than what we're doing," Sergeant Hart said. "You talk about the ultimate sacrifice. You can mourn people that have been killed over there but with POWs, you have nothing. To do this ceremony with nothing shows people we care."

To ensure fruition, coordination from Warren and the Cheyenne leaders took place. Planning began in early September and the efforts paid off.

"We had participation from enlisted and officer Airmen," Sergeant Mclain said. "The [Airman Leadership School] joined in as a class project and they alone filled about 30 slots."

"[The POW/MIA Recognition Day] is something that I want the base to do every year," Sergeant Mclain added. "The support and attendance of the public was there; we had people stopping to ask what was happening. They didn't even know there was such a thing as a recognition day."

The vigil involved over a hundred collective volunteer hours and the list of POW/MIA was read front to back almost two times. The list contained about 7,200 names.
The remembrance impacted the local community.

"An Army major stopped by during a part of the [vigil]," Sergeant Mclain said. "He stood in awe. I don't think he had ever seen this type of remembrance before. He was just a passerby and it caught his attention. He ended up staying for several hours."

The POW/MIA Recognition Day shows the care people have toward military members that didn't come home. Although they are not here, they will always be remembered.