Story and Photos by: LTC (R) Ryan Core
Indianapolis, IN – September 18, 2023 – On September 15, 2023, Indianapolis Public Schools’ Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program proudly supported the annual Indianapolis POW-MIA Ceremony, a solemn event dedicated to recognizing and remembering the sacrifice of military members who were Prisoners of War (POW) and/or Missing In Action (MIA). The event took place on the north steps of the Indiana War Memorial, drawing participation from 90 dedicated JROTC Cadets representing five different schools: Arsenal Technical High School, George Washington High School, Shortridge High School, Crispus Attucks High School, and Christel House Academy.
The ceremony, held on the third Friday in September as designated by former President Barack Obama, aimed to raise awareness about the brave servicemen and women who have endured unimaginable hardships while in captivity and those who remain unaccounted for. The dedication of the Indianapolis JROTC Cadets to this cause was evident throughout the event.
Cadets from Arsenal Tech JROTC, one of the participating schools, expressed their newfound understanding of the issue. “I had no idea that America still had 81,000 people who are MIA, and Indiana has over 1,700 (who are missing in action). I can’t imagine what it must be like for those families not to know what happened to their loved one,” remarked a Cadet from Arsenal Tech.
The Indianapolis JROTC Cadets played a pivotal role in the ceremony by holding flags representing each U.S. state, escorting VIPs to their seats, and assisting in the formal wreath-laying ceremony, which paid tribute to every major conflict from World War II to the present day.
The keynote speaker for the event was retired U.S. Navy Commander Porter A. Halyburton, a Vietnam War POW who was shot down on October 17, 1965, and held in captivity until his release on February 12, 1973. Commander Halyburton’s message focused on the importance of unity and coming together as a nation, highlighting the youth of our country as a key force in this endeavor.
A special moment for the Arsenal Tech High School JROTC came as they had the privilege of meeting Lieutenant General (retired) Tom Montgomery, a distinguished alumnus of Arsenal Technical High School, Class of 1959. Lieutenant General Montgomery, who formerly served as the commander of U.S. forces and Deputy UN Force commander in Somalia during the events of “Blackhawk Down” (March 1993 – March 1994), was also a member of the ATHS Junior ROTC during his high school years.
The Indianapolis Public Schools Junior ROTC program’s support for the Indianapolis POW-MIA Ceremony reflects their commitment to instilling values of honor, service, and patriotism in the next generation of leaders. Their participation in this important event demonstrates the Cadets’ dedication to recognizing and honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our nation.