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Vets pay tribute to lost service members
POW/MIA Remembrance
0920 POWMIA 1
Dave Gibson and his fellow veterans stand in remembrance, candles burning, while the names of Georgia prisoners of war and service members missing in action are read aloud Friday night during the POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony on Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Jen Alexander McCall
The late afternoon rain cleared just in time for the POW-MIA Remembrance Ceremony to begin at Fort Stewart’s Marne Museum on Friday evening. Veterans of more than one conflict, their families and observers gathered under the approaching sunset to recall the loss of fellow servicemen and women and the hope that those missing will one day find their way home.
Speaking at the ceremony, surrounded by older veterans of Vietnam, Korea and World War II, Brigadier Gen. Thomas Vandal told onlookers that even though missions overseas are constantly evolving, “the safety of our soldiers will always be foremost in our minds.”
Vandal talked about the solemn tasks of men and women who work to recover the bodies of missing service members overseas. He said it’s fitting that the forward operating base in Iraq, from which 3rd Infantry Division soldiers will soon operate, was named for Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot who was shot down during the Gulf War and whose remains were recovered this year.
“I’m truly humbled to be able to gather here with our veterans,” he said.
Vandal said continuing to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action is important for maintaining the link from soldiers of the past to soldiers of the future.
Though he delivers speeches at 20 or more events a year, Vandal said the POW-MIA remembrance is especially meaningful because it is sponsored by Vietnam veterans, who he said have never received the recognition that veterans of other conflicts have. “This allows some healing for our veterans,” Vandal said.
During the ceremony, members of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 789, read aloud the names of Georgia’s POWs and MIAs, with some visible emotion. As each name was read, a bell rang out, and the readers then gathered to light candles and stand in honor of their fellow service members.
Veteran Dave Gibson was among the first to call out names. Originally from Mesquite, Texas, and now a resident of Allenhurst, Gibson served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966-68 and was stationed at Bien Hoa Airbase in Vietnam.
“As long as I’m alive, I’ll attend these ceremonies,” Gibson said.

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