Camp Lester ceremony salutes POWs, MIAs
CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — A brief ceremony Friday at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa marked Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day.
The POW/MIA flag was raised with morning colors in front of the hospital, then the ceremony began in the hospital corridor that bears the photos of eight corpsmen still missing in action.
“I can think of no greater sacrifice than to stay true and faithful to your nation and its cause” while enduring the torture POWs have endured, said Capt. Peter F. O’Connor, the hospital’s commanding officer.
The guest speaker, Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Wickboldt, told the assembled crowd that it was the sacrifice and endurance of POWs, those missing in action and all who served in the Vietnam War that ensured today’s military receives America’s support.
He spoke of the poor treatment received by returning Vietnam veterans, pointing out that American military involvement in Vietnam ended in the early 1970s, but Vietnam vets were not greeted with a welcome-home parade until 1985.
Without the determination and dedication of Vietnam-era servicemembers, the country would not have determined that “never again will we treat our servicemembers this way,” Wickboldt said.
Sailors also recognized several retirees who served in the Vietnam War, and unveiled the 2006 Prisoner of War/Missing in Action poster during the ceremony.
Cindy Fisher / S&S
From front to back, Raymond Rossini, Stanley Stewart, Dwayne P. Ash and Dennis E. Provencher, all Vietnam War veterans, salute as the POW/MIA flag is raised with the morning colors Friday at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on Camp Lester.
The POW/MIA flag flies alongside the American and Japanese flags at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa at Camp Lester on Friday.