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A wreathe of carnations honors America’s missing in action and prisoners of war at a observance ceremony held Monday at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity base in Naples, Italy.
A wreathe of carnations honors America’s missing in action and prisoners of war at a observance ceremony held Monday at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity base in Naples, Italy. (Sanfra Jontz / S&S)
A wreathe of carnations honors America’s missing in action and prisoners of war at a observance ceremony held Monday at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity base in Naples, Italy.
A wreathe of carnations honors America’s missing in action and prisoners of war at a observance ceremony held Monday at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity base in Naples, Italy. (Sanfra Jontz / S&S)
The black POW/MIA flag is flown at half-staff Monday as sailors held a remembrance ceremony.
The black POW/MIA flag is flown at half-staff Monday as sailors held a remembrance ceremony. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Blue hoists the POW/MIA black flag during the observance ceremony.
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Blue hoists the POW/MIA black flag during the observance ceremony. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
A missing man table is always present in a corner of the galley at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. Each item holds symbolic meaning, such as the slice of lemon on a plate signifying the bitter fate of those captured and missing.
A missing man table is always present in a corner of the galley at the Capodichino Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. Each item holds symbolic meaning, such as the slice of lemon on a plate signifying the bitter fate of those captured and missing. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Jason Hanna has to be perfect.

“You can’t afford to make a mistake, not on taps,” the 25-year-old petty officer 3rd class musician said Monday after his rendition of the haunting musical notes that honor the military’s dead.

“Every note has a meaning, and I think that meaning is very personal, and something that means something different to everyone,” said the trumpeter with Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet band.

Sailors at Naval Support Activity Naples took time Monday morning to pay tribute to military brethren missing in action or prisoners of war.

“The spirit of our country is elegantly represented” in the enduring campaigns and observances held worldwide by Americans so that those missing in action or prisoners of war never are forgotten, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Barry Bridger said at Monday’s observance in Naples.

About 88,000 Americans still are missing from all of the nation’s wars, and of those, more than 78,000 World War II warriors remain missing, lost at sea or buried in national cemeteries as “unknowns,” according to the Pentagon’s POW/Missing Personnel Office.

“That’s just so hard to believe,” Bridger said of the number of missing. “And there are more than 50,000 ex-POWs living among us today.”

After his F-4 Phantom jet was hit over North Vietnam on Jan. 23, 1967, Bridger spent six years as a prisoner of war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” He was released March 4, 1973, and retired after 22 years of military service.

On Monday, he served as the guest speaker at NSA Naples’ observance ceremony, telling gathered sailors they could best honor the nation’s MIA and POW troops by proudly and honorably serving their nation.

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