On the third Friday in September each year, the nation honors Americans who were prisoners of war, as well as those who are missing in action. On that day — designated by Congress as National POW/MIA Recognition Day — these men and women are recognized for the courage and the determination they displayed in the face of unspeakable hardships and sacrifice.
Public ceremonies held in honor of former prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action were held last week at two Farmington nursing homes.
Former POW Delbert Olin Henson, a resident at Camelot Skilled Nursing in Farmington, was recognized for his sacrifice in a ceremony held on the morning of Sept. 18 at the center. As a member of the 19th Army Infantry Regiment, he was always the first to volunteer himself and his squad when patrols were needed.
Henson was held prisoner of war during the Korean Conflict from August 1950 to February 1953. Henson was captured near Chiangsong, North Korea. While in prison camp, he was moved back and forth from North Korea to South Korea.
The first time Henson's family saw him after his release was at Scott Air Force Base. They were reportedly very shocked at the sight of a whole ward of returned POWs all weighing 100 pounds or less.
Henson was honorably discharged from the Army in February 1954 with the rank of E-7. He joined the Air Force shortly thereafter, retiring as a master sergeant in 1970. His decorations include the Korean Service Medal and Korean Occupation Medal; four Bronze Star Service Medals; and a Combat Infantry Badge.
Taking part in Henson's recognition were Farmington Mayor Larry Forsythe, Farmington City Clerk Ashley Bischoff, Jon Cozean, Michael Bales, Rose Tiefenaur and Hilda Bales.
In the second recognition held Friday, the Desloge and Farmington Chambers of Commerce joined Jennifer Davis, director of Cedarhurst Senior Living of Farmington, in a combined flag dedication ceremony at its Farmington campus.
Kathy Wigger opened the ceremony with the singing of the National Anthem followed by a recitation by the crowd of the Pledge of Allegiance.
State Rep. Mike Henderson next presented Davis with American and Missouri flags that had been flown over the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Retired USAF Lt. Colonel David Shaw presented a POW flag to Korean and Vietnam Veteran Ken Aaborde, of Desloge VFW Post 2426, who had arranged a symbolic table honoring veterans missing in action.
There are 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense Department's POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, as of April 2009. The number of United States personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 841.
About 90 percent of the 1,741 people still missing were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam's wartime control, according to the National League of Families website — cited in the United States Army website.
The United States Congress passed a resolution authorizing National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be observed on July 18, 1979. It was observed on the same date in 1980, and on July 17 in 1981 and 1982. It was then observed on April 9 in 1983 and July 20 in 1984. The event was observed on July 19 in 1985, and then from 1986 forward the date was moved to the third Friday of September.
The United States president each year proclaims National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Many states in the USA also proclaim POW/MIA Recognition Day together with the national effort.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!