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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Breakfast honors POW/MIA servicemembers

By Cpl. Isaac Pacheco | | September 16, 2004

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On the eve of the 3rd anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, servicemembers, retirees and civilians from the Albany community gathered at the Base Restaurant to remember the wartime sacrifice of those servicemembers who were captured and imprisoned or whose whereabouts remain unknown. According to DoD announcements, there are now 1,853 Americans listed as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, 1,414 in Vietnam, 377 in Laos, 55 in Cambodia and 7 in PRC territorial waters. Until July 18, 1979 no commemoration was held to honor America's prisoners of war and missing in action. This year's breakfast marked the 18th time that P.O.W./M.I.A. Day has been officially recognized here.Kent Morrison, director, Marine Corps Community Services, opened the ceremony by recognizing the servicemembers in the audience who had experienced captivity first hand."Our purpose here today is simple," Morrison sai. "We're here to pause, honor and remember."After a moment of silence, Morrison drew attention to the P.O.W. table in the corner of the room and explained the significance of each item on it."The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing men. The single red rose displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers. A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share this morning's toast," Morrison said.After his tribute, Morrison invited the guest of honor, Sgt. Major Glenn N. Wright, (USMC, Ret.), up to the podium to present his remarks. Wright, a seasoned combat veteran, was aboard the first helicopter shot down in Vietnam. During his speech, Wright recounted the story of his family's experiences with M.I.A. and killed in action, and recognized the sacrifices of servicemembers in each military branch."Now, I stand here as a Marine, but I'm here to tell you that I have a great respect for the contributions of all the services," Wright said. "I've searched my soul over the past few years to find out what makes Marines different from these other services, and I've come to realize that it's the brotherhood we share."Winford Boatwright, a former Army P.O.W. who attended the breakfast seemed to relate to Wrights' words, saying the brotherhood between he and his fellow captive servicemembers was equally strong."When the Germans imprisoned me during WWII, I always told my comrades that America was going to liberate us. I'll never forget the face of the sergeant who came in and set us free. He had the American flag with him and I just fell down on my knees and started crying. It was like being given a new life," Boatwright said. "This ceremony means a lot to me because I get to see that people care about what we went through. I don't think many people today realize what patriotism really is. I fought for this flag, I was imprisoned for this flag and I starved for this flag," Boatwright added as he pointed to the American flag-shaped lapel pin on his chest. "That's patriotism."
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