Corps honors captured, missing service members
By Sgt. M. Trent Lowry
| | September 26, 2002
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The sacrifices of American service members who were either prisoners of war or are still missing in action were honored nationwide. Personnel aboard the air station showed their respects at the POW/MIA breakfast at the Sonoran Pueblo club.
Bringing authenticity to the solemn proceedings were the stories of incarceration told by Tillford "Jim" Daugherty, a Yuma County resident who was a prisoner of war during World War II.
Daugherty was a private first class serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in 1944 when he was captured by German soldiers. He spent six months in captivity before Allied troops liberated his camp in June 1945.
Daugherty's stories offered a glimpse into just one example of the thousands of members of the armed forces who were captured during a war, and helped bring a human touch to the presentation.
President George W. Bush issued a proclamation announcing the continued observation of the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
"Each year on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we honor those Americans who were prisoners of war and recognize them for the courage and determination they showed in the face of unspeakable hardships. We also honor those who remain unaccounted for, especially remembering the sacrifices of their families who must courageously face each day without knowing the fate of their loved ones," President Bush said in the proclamation. "I call upon all the people of the United States to join me in honoring former American prisoners of war who suffered the hardships of enemy captivity, and in renewing out commitment to those still missing."
Other members of the Yuma county American Ex-Prisoners of War chapter, including those captured in World War II and the Korean War, were also in attendance, sober-faced with the recollections of their trials.
Though the turnout for the event was low due to operational commitments, the quality of the presentation impressed those in attendance.
"It was an impressive ceremony," said Barry Butz, a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the Navy almost 32 years. "They're the real heroes. They put up with the injustices while serving their country to protect the people back home."
Many Americans can try to understand what the sacrifices made by the former prisoners and the missing servicemembers mean, but those who have served or are serving in the military have a special perspective, according to Butz.
"It's good for us to talk to fellow veterans. There's a common bond, a camaraderie and brotherhood of all those who served," Butz said.
Those who attended the breakfast were able to reap the benefits of seeing a living history from a bygone era, and thus were able to more succinctly celebrate and recognize what freedoms the prisoners sacrificed in order.