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SERVING OUR VETERANS: Remembering our POW, MIA veterans

September 14, 2018
Ron Montonye - Pierce County Veterans Service Officer , Pierce County Tribune

With the recent passing of Senator John McCain, we were often reminded he was held as a prisoner-of-war for five and one-half years during the Vietnam War. Already injured from his fighter jet crash, he was subsequently starved and tortured and never received proper medical attention. As a result, he was left with permanent and life-long physical disabilities. Unfortunately, his treatment as a POW was not unusual, but was one similarly experienced by many of our POWs during all wars.

During WWI, about 48,000 U.S. soldiers were held as POWs. During WWII, about 95,500 were taken by Germany and 34,500 by Japan. Of these 130,000 U.S. soldiers, 1.2 percent held by Germany died and 33 percent died in Japanese captivity. The number of U.S. soldiers taken during the Korean War was 7,400. Nine hundred were alive at the end of the war. During the Vietnam War, 766 were taken. Five hundred ninety one U.S. soldiers were released at the end of that war.

When we look at the numbers of U.S. soldiers listed as missing in action, the statistics indicate, 7,470 MIAs from WWI, 30,314 from WWII, 8,025 from the Korean War and 1,719 from the Vietnam War.

Fortunately, the number of POWs and MIAs from the more recent wars is far less than previous wars, but they are still happening at times today. When it does, it again reminds us of how horrible war can be. When we just think about these numbers of POWs and MIAs, it should sadden all of us. It again should remind us of the great sacrifices made by those trying to defend and preserve our democracy and the freedoms we have as U.S. citizens. At times we try not to think about what our POWs had to endure, but we should encourage ourselves to do that and appreciate what they have done for our country. Let us also reflect upon the families of our MIAs. They have never had any closure in regards to what happened to their loved one. There is no body, no way to have a traditional funeral and no gravesite to visit. There is only uncertainty, sadness and a waiting to find out. Unfortunately, that waiting for closure almost never ends.

Let us commit ourselves today to remember and honor our POWs and those listed as MIA. Let us live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the sacrifices they have made for us.

 
 

 

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