HomeNewsArticle Display

Annual reunion honors sacrifice of POW, MIA service members

A formation of T-34 Mentors perform a missing man flyover during the Freedom Flyer Reunion wreath laying ceremony March 31, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. The event honors all prisoners of war and missing in action service members from the Vietnam War and included a wreath-laying ceremony and a missing man formation flyover.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

A formation of T-34 Mentors perform a missing man flyover during the Freedom Flyer Reunion wreath-laying ceremony March 31, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. The event honored all prisoners of war and missing in action service members from the Vietnam War and included a wreath-laying ceremony and a missing man formation flyover. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sean M. Worrell)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Members of the 560th Flying Training Squadron hosted the 44th annual Freedom Flyer Reunion and 20th annual POW/MIA (prisoner of war/missing in action) Symposium March 30-31, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

The event honored all POW and MIA service members from the Vietnam War and included a wreath-laying ceremony and a missing man formation flyover. Air Force Col. Joel Carey, the 12th Flying Training Wing commander, and retired Army Brig. Gen. Dr. John Rose, Vietnam War veteran, were featured as guest speakers during the wreath-laying event at the foot of JB San Antonio-Randolph’s Missing Man Formation Monument.

“Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join us for the celebration in this remembrance of many of those who have come to serve before and sacrificed much,” Carey said.

In the years following the Vietnam War the 560th FTS hosted the Pilot Requalification Program for POWs returning to flight status.

Their first flight with the 560th FTS was designed to duplicate what each returning pilot’s last flight in South East Asia would have been. Traditionally each pilot completing his 100th mission or end of tour was greeted on the flightline by his comrades to celebrate his safe return.

Keeping with tradition, the 560th FTS provided each former POW with their long overdue “fini” flight.

Since the first flight on May 21, 1973, the 560th FTS has flown 198 former POWs.

“I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to be here; to be a part of this ceremony and remembrance for fellow Vietnam veterans,” Rose said.

Rose recalled the challenges service members faced when returning from the Vietnam War in contrast to how service members are treated today.

“I remember coming home after 13 months in Vietnam and being met by an NCO who said, ‘Take off your uniform, you’re back in the United States, you are not welcomed here,’” Rose said. “It was a painful and tough time, it was a difficult time for our nation. We all know how difficult it was back then, and we can’t change that now, but I am so delighted and proud about the way we treat our service members of all branches today upon their return.”

Following the wreath-laying ceremony, guests had the opportunity to listen to former POWs share their experiences and lessons learned from captivity during the 20th annual POW/MIA Symposium in the JB San Antonio-Randolph Fleenor Auditorium.

“What I have learned from all of this is that, you Vietnam veterans did not quit your country, you did not walk away,” Rose said. “You helped build the nation that we have today; the strongest military the world has ever seen and a nation that is built on our values, beliefs and trust. For that you deserve great respect, honor and the sincerest thanks and appreciation.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#USAF BMT is changing this #summer! #Airmen will spend more time on weapons familiarization, along w/ additions of… https://t.co/wlHwtx7XWO
#USAF #Airmen continues the process of making his childhood dream of playing professional football come true. https://t.co/iAl70c8GXS
The opening of Cargo City successfully transitions operations from the #USAF & Coalition Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Ba… https://t.co/K73PkhjpNY
RT @AirmanMagazine: It started as a dare between two pilots... The @usairforce Hurricane Hunters save lives by flying through hurricanes t…
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to this crew for making the right call and saving the life of a fellow service member. https://t.co/cP4KCIQFgD
The Space Test Program-2 will provide the #USAF with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishing proc… https://t.co/qYhlj7Je9V
RT @ActingSecAF: Happy birthday @USArmy. 244 years of defending our nation. @SecArmy https://t.co/AfMoPxwbd8
RT @DeptofDefense: “They’re really noisy, but I love them.” This @USAirForce F-15 Eagle crew chief from the @142ndFW shares his motivation…
Today, America recognizes the birth of Old Glory with its own holiday. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877 to mar… https://t.co/wqoEjdqQFy
#FollowFriday! @ActingSecAF Matthew Donovan is responsible for the affairs of the #USAF, including the organizing,… https://t.co/28IlKOKWMq
.@NellisAFB fixed wing aircrews are flight-testing new prototype helmets this summer, thanks in part to an accelera… https://t.co/4HSUGSk3Qg
The 2019 @warriorgames Opening Ceremony is set for 6/22 @AmalieArena w/@HunterHayes! Stay up to date with your… https://t.co/u34QuBnpdo
.@AETCommand's latest #podcast series dives into "Developing Mach-21 #Airmen," providing visibility on recruiting,… https://t.co/CGSHJonQAT
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to the support of Congress, the @usairforce is developing game changing technology. #fasterandsmarter https://t.co/…
#DYK, Flight equipment has historically been designed to fit males because there are statistically more male… https://t.co/iJnSp1pV74
.@AirForceReserve #Airmen rescues an 8yr old boy from flood waters, in Prague, Oklahoma. #USAFhttps://t.co/Y4efafIkO6
#DYK, Individuals w/ disabilities comprise a large part of the #USAF civilian force. As part of the American Disabi… https://t.co/LOP14Xhg4j
Two of #AirForce's newest aircraft complete receiver certification, moving one step closer to enhancing #warfigtherhttps://t.co/F6pvB6PEac