MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, served as the guest speaker for the 8th annual “The Ride Home” Prisoner of War/Missing in Action candlelight ceremony hosted by Rolling Thunder, Inc., in Americus, Ga., Friday.
The POW/MIA Recognition events were held throughout the weekend on the campuses of Georgia Southwestern University and South Georgia Technical College, both in Americus. Williams, the Albany Marine Band and the MCLB Albany color guard also participated in Saturday’s events.
As the POW/MIA flag flies beneath Old Glory, the words, “You are not forgotten,” inscribed on it ring true for those gathered at the weekend event, which included hundreds of former POWs, their families and the family members of those still missing in action.
Williams said many individuals who have spoken at ceremonies like the past weekend’s have tried to put into words the importance of the unique deeds and sacrifices of America’s POWs and MIAs.
“We can only pray that all of America will meet the challenge with the same courage, commitment and spirit of determination as those who are being honored today,” he said.
Williams said Americans are blessed to live in a nation of democracy and freedom and what they must do today, through ceremonies such as this, is to put into action what they feel as a nation.
“It is to each of you whom we owe a special debt of respect and gratitude; to you who were captured and yet maintained your faith in our nation and our ability to bring you home,” the commanding officer said. “You did so while imprisoned and many times victimized, brutalized and tortured. To the families of those still missing from past American wars, you have wounds that are slow to heal.”
Williams said we will never understand the full depth of commitment and sacrifice America’s POWs and MIAs and their families have given to this country.
“We owe it to you all to publicly thank you for the unique hardships and sacrifices you have endured,” he said. “Many of us in uniform understand what it means to sacrifice, and even more for those of us who have served in combat. As a grateful nation, we can never repay the profound debt to our heroes, but we can honor and remember them. “America does honor and remember!”
Jim Moyer, chairman and event coordinator, The Ride Home, Inc., said having the young men and women here from the Marine base to support the event made it even more special.
“It was an honor to once again to have the Marine Corps leadership here with the band and color guard,” he said. “Colonel Williams gave an excellent speech that got everyone’s attention and really brought home the true spirit of our event. The Albany Marine Band was simply awesome and the color guard added that special touch to the ceremony. We are so blessed to have the Marines present at our event each year and look forward to seeing them again next year.”
An Armed Forces Press Service article dated Sept. 15 noted that as Americans paused to observe POW/MIA Recognition Day, teams of military and civilian experts will be excavating sites in Europe and the South Pacific looking for remains to help identify service members still missing from past wars.
Teams from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, will be on the job, working to provide the fullest possible accounting of America’s missing, and living up to their command’s motto, “Until they are home.”
The Joint POW/MIA Command’s mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for about 84,000 U.S. service members from the nation’s wars. The vast majority of these - 74,184 - are from World War II, but the lost also include 1,680 from Vietnam, 7,979 from Korea and 127 from the Cold War.
Nearly 200 former POWs and families of those missing in action attended the weekend events, which was one of the largest turnouts, according to Moyer.
The Web site, www.theridehome.com, gives details about the mission and purpose of Rolling Thunder, Inc., a nonprofit organization with more than 85 chapters across the United States.