POW/MIA Remembrance program Saturday

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 9/18/19

American Legion Post 81, located at 227 James Asbury Drive in Cleveland, will be host to a POW/MIA Remembrance Program on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.

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POW/MIA Remembrance program Saturday

Posted

American Legion Post 81, located at 227 James Asbury Drive in Cleveland, will be host to a POW/MIA Remembrance Program on Saturday.

Joining in the presentation will be members of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 81; American Legion Post 81; the Ocoee Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; the Sons of the American Revolution;  and representatives of  other veteran and community groups.

The program is scheduled a day following National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is the third Friday of September every year.

The guest speaker this year is Capt. Mickey McCamish, a Chattanooga native, with 27 years in the U.S. Navy.

During his naval career, McCamish served on numerous ships in various positions, and also had command of numerous units, including Military Sealift Command offices (Israel/Lebanon), Cruiser/Destroyer Group 104. and the Naval Telecommunications Program (worldwide).

He served in Vietnam (1967-68), and received several letters of commendation. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Award, the second-highest peacetime award.

Following his naval career, McCamish served as president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He has also received several business and leadership awards and honors.

Retiring from his South Carolina position, McCamish returned to Chattanooga, and is active in his hometown community.

McCamish chairs the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition, is immediate past-president of the Navy League, chairman of Chattanooga's Armed Forces Parade Committee, and past president of the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council. He has served several other veteran and community organizations.

The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition serves 25,000 veterans and their families.

This year, he is serving as the 2019 chairman of Wreaths Across America at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

McCamish has been married for 50 years to Nancy Carol Franklin, also a Chattanooga native. They have two children — a son, Chad, and a daughter, Dr. Shannon McCamish Butler.

Several others will be participating on the POW/MIA program.

American Legion Commander Donnie Hancock will give the welcome; DAR Chaplain Virginia Orr will provide the invocation and benediction; the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard will present the colors; and Hancock will introduce the speaker.

There will be a special segment to the program, when Unit 81 Auxiliary President Janet Allen will lead those in attendance in remembering a pair of late veterans, and former POWs, Bill Norwood and Harmon S. Leonard.

Norwood was born and raised in Polk County, while Leonard was originally from Bristol in upper East Tennessee.

Leonard passed away on July 24, 2009, and Norwood more recently, on Feb. 28, 2018. The two were captured by the Chinese communists during the Korean War, and were imprisoned in the same POW camp. Both were POWs for more than two years.

Their stories, and sacrifices, are among reasons "You Are Not Forgotten" is the central phrase behind the POW/MIA remembrance movement which honors America's prisoners of war, those who are still missing in action, and their families.

Many U.S. service members suffered as prisoners of war during several decades of varying conflicts. While some of them made it home, tens of thousands never did.

In order to comprehend the importance of the POW/MIA movement, statistics on the sheer number of Americans who have been listed as POW/MIAs will help tell the story.

According to a Congressional Research Service report on POWs:

• 130,201 World War II service members were imprisoned, 14,072 them died;

• 7,140 Korean War service members were imprisoned, 2,701 of them died;

• 725 Vietnam War service members were imprisoned, 64 of them died; and

• 37 service members were imprisoned during conflicts since 1991, including both Gulf wars; none are still in captivity.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 83,114 Americans who fought in those wars are still missing, including:

• 73,515 from World War II (an approximate number due to limited or conflicting data);

• 7,841 from the Korean War;

• 1,626 from Vietnam;

• 126 from the Cold War; and

• 6 from conflicts since 1991.

The DPAA said about 75% of those missing Americans are somewhere in the Asia-Pacific, while more than 41,000 are presumed lost at sea.

Efforts to find those men, identify them and bring them home are constant. For example, the DPAA said that in the past year it has accounted for 41 men missing during the Korean War: 10 had been previously buried as unknowns, 26 were from remains turned over by North Korea in the 1990s, one was from a recovery operation, and four were combinations of remains and recovery operations.

The  POW/MIA flag was actually created years before the remembrance day became official.

In 1971, a woman named Mary Hoff contacted a flag company near her home to see if a flag reminding people of POWs and the missing could be made. She was one of the many waiting to see if her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hoff, would ever return home after his plane had been shot down over Laos.

World War II pilot Newt Heisley designed the now-famous flag, which was made in black and white to represent the sorrow, anxiety and hope symbolized by the image of the gaunt man featured on it.

For every POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982, the flag has flown just below the Stars and Stripes at the White House — the only other flag to ever do so. In 1998, Congress ordered it to also be displayed on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

The POW/MIA flag reminds Americans to never forget the country's prisoners of war and missing in action.

Americans are urged to remember the extreme sacrifices of POW/MIAs and America's pact to them: That their nation will take care of them and, no matter how much time has passed, they will eventually make it back home.

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