SJ Airmen Observe POW/MIA Week

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Lynn
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – Airmen assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, observed POW/MIA week from Sept. 14-17, 2021. The week featured multiple events including a dinner with veterans, 24-hour vigil and multiple ceremonies.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September and was established in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. Members of SJAFB and the Air Force Sergeants Association chapter 371 expanded the recognition to an entire week.

“Every year the Air Force Sergeants Association remembers the official POW/MIA day of Sept. 18th,” said Master Sgt. Nikki Kohn, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron egress section chief. “We do our best to honor POW/MIAs throughout the week.”

The week united SJAFB Airmen and local community members in order to pay proper respect to POW/MIA’s.

“To honor all those who came before us and those that are still serving is an amazing opportunity for us to come together,” said Kohn. “It started as a small ceremony of around 20 people on base and now it is a weeklong event and includes base personnel and the local community.”

One local ceremony was the rededication of the Freedom Tree in downtown Goldsboro. The tree was planted and dedicated in 1973 to a Goldsboro native and POW/MIA.

“This tree was planted to honor Capt. Cleary for making the ultimate sacrifice,” said Col. Tammy McElhaney, 4th Mission Support Group commander. “We will never forget those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Kohn added, the week had a big turn out and was overall successful.

“The overall week went amazing,” said Kohn. “To have so much base and community involvement despite the current ops tempo was not only humbling, but motivational as well.”

The AFSA Chapter 371 is also planning to hold a ruck march on Oct. 10 in alignment with the 49th anniversary of the loss of Cleary.