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 September 10, 2010

Observances

National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day observed Sept. 17

Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is observed each year on the third Friday in September.

This special day is set aside to remember our servicemembers who are unaccounted for and/or missing.

Here are a few interesting facts about the day:
IMAGE: POW/MIA Recognition Day poster.

• The first commemoration of POW/MIA Day was held July 18, 1979.

• 74,074 World War II servicemembers are missing in action.

• 8,025 Korean War servicemembers are missing in action.

• 125 Cold War servicemembers are missing in action.

• 1,713 Vietnam servicemembers are missing in action.

• No Desert Storm servicemembers are missing in action. (Forty-nine Americans were listed as POW/MIAs during Operation Desert Storm. Department of Defense has accounted for all 49, the last being U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, whose remains were located in Iraq, and identified and returned to his Family in August 2009. Two naval aviators accounted for as Killed in Action-Body Not Recovered are at-sea losses and likely will never be recovered).

• An estimated 42,800 American ex-POWs are living. More than 39,700 are World War II survivors; 2,400 are from the Korean War; and 600 are from the Vietnam War.

• Approximately 10 former American POWs die each day.

The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) and the Joint POW/MIA Command (JPAC) are organizations committed to the accountability and recovery of Americans captured or missing.

To learn more about their mission and operations visit these websites: http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/ or http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/.

One of the most recognized symbols of POW/MIA Recognition Day is the POW/MIA Flag.

This distinctive flag originated in 1971 when Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of POW/MIAs.

Norman Rivkees, Vice President of Annin & Company, was contacted by Mrs. Hoff to design a flag to represent American missing men.

The company then commissioned former World War II pilot Newton Heisley to design the flag.

The design depicted a silhouette of a man’s head with barbed wire and a watchtower in the background.
Below the design, the flag bears the motto “You Are Not Forgotten.”

The man’s head shown is a silhouette of Heisley’s son Jeffrey, then 24 and suffering from hepatitis after a Marine Corps training program at Quantico.

Heisley sketched the imagery in pencil and intended to add color to the black and white image but never got a chance before the flag manufacturer started production. The 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355 Aug. 10, 1990, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “as the symbol of our nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the nation.”

The POW/MIA flag will be flown each year on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.

The flag is to be flown at the White House; the Capitol; each National War Memorial; each national cemetery; buildings containing the offices of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, the Director of the Selective Service System; each major military installation, as designated by the Secretary of Defense; and each U.S. Post Office.

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