DoD Holds Eighth Annual POW/MIA Prayer Breakfast
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 7, 2002 The Department of Defense held its eighth annual National POW/MIA Prayer breakfast here today to focus attention on the nation's commitment to the fullest possible accounting of missing Americans from all wars.
"Not one of our missing will disappear from the thoughts of those who labor so tirelessly to bring them home," Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the audience of more than 200 former POWs and their families, families of missing personnel and a host of top ranking DoD and government officials and guests.
The secretary praised those who are working to recover missing and unaccounted for servicemen and civilians from the nation's wars. He said the seven Americans and their nine Vietnamese colleagues who died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam on April 7, 2001, were part of the full- accounting effort.
"They were on a mission to return lost warriors to those who love them," Wolfowitz said. "Their loss is a reminder that those who venture into harm's way in a spirit of willing service assume exceptional risks. Those men and those Americans we have lost in the war on terrorism died because they wanted to help others. And help others they did."
Emphasizing that the quest to account for America's missing servicemen is close to his heart, Wolfowitz said when the nation goes to war, "We have done so with a sacred compact with the citizens who wear our country's uniform -- should they fall on the field of battle, we will do all in our power to find them and bring them home."
DoD's POW and Missing Personnel Office sponsors the prayer breakfast. "We honor individuals uniquely qualified to speak about faith in challenging situations, said event coordinator Peggy Marish-Boos. "The story of American POWs and missing personnel, their families and those of us charged to serve them, serves as a strong reminder of the importance of freedom."
Honored guests included six former POWs from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. The wife of a Persian Gulf War POW spoke to the audience about her experiences and feelings during her husband's (Air Force Col. William Andrews) weeklong captivity.