Submitted by LTC (R) Michael DeBolt
On September 16, Memorial Park was the site of the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony. POW/MIA Day is observed annually on the third Friday of September around a central theme to show commitment to full accountability to the families of captured service members and missing war heroes. Central to the ideals of our nation’s commitment of leaving no fallen servicemen behind is the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The mission of the DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. Its vision is to provide a world-class workforce that fulfills our nation’s obligation by maximizing the number of missing personnel accounted for while ensuring timely, accurate, information is provided to their families. DPAA values Compassion, Integrity, Teamwork, Respect, Innovation.
Dr. Carrie Ann Brown, Deputy Director of the DPAA at Offutt Lab, NE spoke of the sacrifice, “DPAA is dedicated to returning our unaccounted-for servicemen to their families. We understand sacrifice and remember our own comrades who were lost performing this mission.”
“The U.S. remains committed to the mission of achieving the fullest possible accounting of missing service members. For example, there are approximately 7,800 service members still unaccounted-for from the Korean War. Of that total, it is estimated that approximately 5,300 are located in North Korea. “
She spoke of the DPAA mission locations in approximately 24 Countries, 40 Investigation Teams, 42 Recovery Teams in Asia alone to include Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam.
The success of the team relies on investigations to locate sites associated with unaccounted for servicemen. Interviews of U.S. and foreign veterans are often the key. These investigations led to teams getting to often very remote and austere sites to conduct surveys. Evidence obtained during surveys may lead to recommendation to excavate for remains.
“Recoveries are literally a global effort. From frozen Alaskan glaciers to jungles of India to South Pacific underwater sites every effort is made to bring our unaccounted home and bring closure to families”, said Dr. Brown in closing.
“Dear SSgt Manuel Rameriz Puentes, thank you for your service as an Infantryman with the B Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry. You are still MIA. Please come home. Saying thank you isn’t enough, but it is from the heart. Be at peace. US Army Vietnam. Your sacrifice is not forgotten. HOOAH.” His brother Jose laid a wreath at the site of the Vietnam memorial for his brother.
American Legion Post 1 provided the Honor Guard and Missing Man tribute. Dr. Rudy Mitchell and Patricia Whitebear paid tribute to the sacrifices of our native Americans with a special prayer. Twelve Veterans groups and Omaha Fire Department Hook and Ladder were on hand to lay wreaths on behalf of their organizations. The third annual POW/MIA event was coordinated by Omaha Public Schools Junior ROTC department. All Omaha district high schools fly the POW flag on this day.
- American Legion Fred Tisdale, MC
- Echohawk Lefthand, USMC
- Dr. Rudy Mitchell & Patricia Whitebear in prayer
- LTC (Ret) DeBolt, OPS Director Army Instruction
- CDR Boganowski, USMC League
- Missing Man Ceremony
- Dr. Carol Brown, Deputy Director DPAA
- Native American Drummers