Dating back to World War II through the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Iraq and other conflicts, there are approximately 82,468 service members still missing in action, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Those missing in action were remembered here during the annual POW/MIA Remembrance Week, Sept. 11-15. The week included a flag raising ceremony, a 24-hour run and concluded with a remembrance and retreat ceremony.
“These moments for us to pause and consider the sacrifice of the families and the sacrifice of the warriors who have gone before us in service to our nation, serve as an opportunity to consider the past but it also serves as something to be mindful of as we continue to serve today, as we continue to serve tomorrow and into the future,” said Air Force Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander.
Kicking off the week just as the sun came up, nine flights of students and members from the Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Peterson AFB formed up to raise the American and POW/MIA flags, Sept. 11.
The flags stayed up all week through the 24-hour run where 432 base personnel volunteered to run a three-mile loop to keep the POW/MIA flag moving for a total of 148 miles.
On the final loop of the 24-hour run, the Peterson Fire Department, 21st Security Forces Squadron, Colorado Patriot Guard Riders and the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club escorted the runners from start to finish to the remembrance ceremony. The runners carried the flags of the five military service branches and the POW/MIA flag.
During the ceremony, the military’s Code of Conduct was read by six service members including airmen, sailors, soldiers and a Canadian service member.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Edwin Beck also spoke at the ceremony. Beck was a World War II gunner in the 106th Infantry Division, 422nd Regiment, when he was captured by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge.
“I was MIA, I was a POW, now I am an ex-POW/MIA,” Beck said. “I’m privileged to be amongst these young troops here, because you are the troops and the people that are going to keep this country going.”
Beck joined the Army in 1943. On Dec. 19, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, Beck’s unit was surrounded and captured by the Germans. Beck and his fellow captives were forced to march more than 150 miles in five days to a POW camp.
Beck spent approximately six months as a POW before he escaped, said Jim Wear, a remembrance ceremony guest speaker and Salute to American Veterans founder and organizer.
Moore concluded the ceremony before the American and POW/MIA flags were presented in the retreat ceremony.
“In the face of the uncertainty surrounding us -- whether it’s in Eastern Europe, the East and South China seas, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East -- we must bring honor to our heritage by pushing the mission forward and taking care of each other,” he said
Moore added, “You are remembered,” Moore said of the missing. “We will not leave an Airman behind. I am honored and humbled to serve with you. May we never forget.”