Local veterans honor POW-MIA Day
By Mike Steely
Several dozen veterans, their families and citizens met at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial at World’s Fair Park recently to honor and remember those military personnel missing in action or held as prisoners of war.
Captain Bill Robinson, the longest-held enlisted prisoner of the Vietnam War, was recognized at the event. The local Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1078 bears his name.
Chris Albrecht, the chapter’s public information officer, served as master of ceremonies. Rev. Dr. Pat Polis, past chapter president, gave the invocation and the Volunteer State Honor Guard presented the colors. Albrecht said that the search for missing soldiers continues and those people will never be forgotten but leave a “permanent void” with their families and our nation.
“We honor them and bear witness to their suffering and continued absence,” Rev. Polis said.
Kelly Rabb, a First Class Navy veteran of the honor guard, spoke of the Missing Man Table and described each item on the table and how those items on the table and the round table itself represent the missing military members.
Major Leslie A. Purser, U.S. Army retired, spoke of those soldiers missing in action and those remains found and recovered. “Since 1974 more than 1,000 remains from the Vietnam War have been recovered, identified, and returned to their families for full military honors,” she said.
“Our service members hoped to return to the places they left but not all can or did. These POWs and MIAs have given our country a full measure of sacrifice,” she said.
The Volunteer State Honor Guard concluded the ceremonies with a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”