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ISSUE: Raising MIA/POW awareness
OUR VIEW: Local group rallies support for veterans
Lt. John Douglas Hale of Brandenburg is remembered as a sociable and patriotic man who wanted to serve his country.
Fighting in Vietnam, he was on a helicopter on an armed reconnaissance mission March 8, 1971. The helicopter was shot down, exploding as it hit the ground. From the air, search teams could see no survivors. On the ground, because of the enemy position, it wasn’t possible to search the wreckage.
Hale is presumed dead and he remains unaccounted for. But, as POW/MIA supporters pledge, Hale and others like him won’t be forgotten.
POW/MIA Flag Guard, a local group that formed recently, is working to increase awareness for lost military service members and to honor heroes such as Hale.
On Sept. 20, National MIA/POW Recognition Day, the group will dedicate a plaque in honor of Hale at a ceremony at Riverfront Park in Brandenburg.
Flag guard member and U.S. Air Force veteran Loretta Sherod of Vine Grove said she hopes ceremonies also will be organized for the other 13 Kentuckians who fought in the Vietnam War and are unaccounted for.
Overall, 1,600 Americans deployed during that war are not accounted for, according to the Department of Defense’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. Also, 7,900 from the Korean War and 73,000 from World War II are unaccounted for.
In some cases, successful searches bring honor to lost warriors and some sort of peace to their loved ones. Just last week, a soldier from Louisville who was lost in South Korea in 1950 and later presumed dead was to be buried with military honors in his hometown. His remains were discovered last year and identified with dental comparison, mitochondrial DNA and other tools, according to a DPMO news release.
In thousands of other cases, though, there is no such sense of closure.
Coming together as concerned citizens inspired by the sacrifice of others, the POW/MIA Flag Guard has taken on the mission of increasing awareness throughout the community. In addition to the ceremony and plaque for Hale, they’ve partnered with multiple businesses and government agencies to fly the somber black flag of their cause. Sherod noted the community has embraced the flag guard’s mission.
For flying the flag, members of the group recently recognized several organizations including the City of Brandenburg, Chase Bank in Radcliff, Radcliff Fire Department, Wal-Mart in Radcliff, Big M Chevrolet, the U.S. Post Office in Rineyville, The Lusk Group and Bandits Bar and Grill.
That community support is warranted and should grow, helping the guard honor veterans and educate the public with each plaque presented and each flag raised.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.