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Remembering those who gave their all;POW/MIA Recognition Day breakfast honors those who never returned ;;

By Pfc. Brian J. Holloran | | September 25, 2003

With the recent identification of 12 service members missing in action since the Vietnam War, it’s difficult not to think about those who were taken prisoner and held captive in foreign counties to be freed years later, or those who have never returned home.In recognition of Prisoner of War and Missing In Action Recognition Day, the air station will host a breakfast for invited guests.Ann M. Autrey will be the guest speaker for the event. Autrey’s husband, the late Alfred L. Autrey, was taken captive as a POW in 1944 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He was held for 13 months at Stalag Luft 1, a German prison camp. “These types of events are great,” said Autrey. “It makes younger generations more aware of the sacrifices many service members make. It reminds them that these men never forgot what their duty was and that they were willing to fight and suffer for their country.” “I think this event, and others like it, will help bring these men to the public’s attention,” said Jess J. Lomeli, retired Navy SEAL and Vietnam War veteran. “They were over there serving. They deserve to be recognized.” “My dad loved his country and would do anything for it,” said Judy A. Dyson, a fifth grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Yuma, Al and Ann Autrey’s daughter. “That is why he went through those 13 months of confinement and why he never regretted it. He wore his uniform with pride. He deserves to be remembered along with every other POW or MIA who has ever served this country.”This isn’t the first time Autrey has spoken about service members who were POW or MIA.“Every year, me and Al would go to my daughter’s fifth grade class and talk about POWs,” said Autrey. “We would inform the kids about what these men did and how it affects (the children) and their parents.” “It’s important for POWs to speak with young people,” said Dyson. “We try to teach young people to enjoy the freedoms they have and not take them for granted. My mom and dad were like the grandmother and grandfather of my school. They were there all the time talking to the kids and educating them.”One day isn’t enough to remember all those men and women who have fought and died to protect the freedoms everyone holds dear, said Lomeli.“They need to be recognized every day for everything they have done for this nation,” said Lomeli.“These men and women shouldn’t be honored just once a year,” said Charles C. Gregory, retired sailor and Vietnam War veteran. “They should be honored every day. I have flown the (POW/MIA) flag every day since I returned from Vietnam and it will keep flying until the day I die.”“At every meeting for the (Veteran’s of Foreign Wars) we pray for those who haven’t come home yet,” said Woodrow N. Louis, retired sailor and Vietnam War veteran. “We contribute time and money to help locate service members that are still missing in action. We also talk to our congressman regularly to try and get more funding for the search for MIAs” National POW/MIA Recognition Day is held the third Friday in September every year to honor and remember the service members that were taken captive and the one’s that died fighting in a foreign land.One day may not be enough to remember these courageous men and woman, but like the families of those 12 service members recently found, every family undoubtedly wants to know what happened to their loved one.
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