'We will not forget you': EKU, Rolling Thunder honor POW/MIA veterans
Pictured: Chair dedication at Eastern Kentucky University. Brigadier General Benjamin Adams III ( USA Retired, Commissioner of Kentucky Dept of Veterans Affairs. And 3 MIA daughters: Cathy Stringer Robinson, Suzanne Hoff Ogawa and Cindy Stonebraker.
With the help of Eastern Kentucky University and members of Rolling Thunder Chapter 5, a nonprofit state chapter of the national organization, many service men and women who are Prisoners of War - Missing in Action (POW/MIA) will be remembered with the unveiling of the 'Chair of Honor.' Thursday morning, members of the Rolling Thunder group, EKU and political officials gathered to celebrate and remember those who are POW/MIA and honor them with this new monument. One of those to be remembered is an EKU alum and ROTC participant, Captain John C. Stringer II, who was last seen attempting to cross a flooded river in South Vietnam on Nov. 30, 1970. His remains have never been recovered, and he is still considered missing in action.
He left behind a daughter, who was two-years-old at the time, named Cathy Stringer-Robinson, who is now a school counselor at Shannon Johnson Elementary, and was instrumental in the implementation of the honor chair. "I read a quote, and I wish I knew who wrote it, but it says, 'A man is never dead, until forgotten.' With the help of Eastern Kentucky University, my dad and many other men and women, will not be forgotten," she said Thursday. She, along with her two "MIA sisters," whose fathers are also still missing, unveiled an empty, solitary stadium chair at the stadium, adorned with POW/MIA and American flags to remember their fathers."Each of these chairs, these single solitary chairs represent the individuality of every American that has been held captive or missing," General Benjamin Adams said. "...There is no specific service emblem associated with the chair, it is reserved for an American who was or is a servant leader.
"One who may yet lie in a shallow grave, who may have been swept away at sea, or whose fate we may only imagine. This chair is set for them, it is reserved. We celebrate their lives, to celebrate their service to reiterate or resolve that we will not forget you." According to Robinson's speech, the ceremony that took place was more than she could have imagined when she sent her initial email for the idea to the EKU Military and Veteran Affairs Director, Barbara Kent in February."I do want to thank Barbara Kent who has been a workforce for this chair. She jumped on it, and I knew it was going forward no matter what," Robinson said. She also thanked her father's fraternity brothers, some of which were in attendance, stating they had given her memories to have of her fathers with their stories."For me today this chair has a very personal, important presence in my heart," she said. "...Because of this event today, I have learned more about my dad, because I have no memories." Suzanne Hoff-Ogawa also spoke about her father, Commander Michael George Hoff who was lost on Jan. 7, 1970 after a plane he was on was impacted and exploded. While the family does believe he died that day, Commander Hoff is considered to still be missing in action.
Finally, Cindy Stonebraker spoke in remembrance of her father, Lt. Colonel Kenneth Stonebraker who was lost on Oct. 28, 1968 after leaving for a solo night mission over North Vietnam and he never returned. Two-weeks-ago marked 51 years that her father has been missing in action. POW/MIA and Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 will again unveil the Chair of Honor in the end zone of Roy Kidd Stadium on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The public is invited.
Airmen stand at attention during the lowering of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Sept. 20. (Griffin Swartzell/Air Force)
Prominent federal buildings and national war memorials will now fly the iconic POW/MIA flag alongside the American flag throughout the year thanks to legislation signed into law Thursday. The proposal, passed without objection in the House last month and the Senate earlier this year, is designed to help highlight the continued sacrifice of military families whose loved ones are still unaccounted for overseas, estimated at about 82,000 individuals. President Donald Trump finalized the measure on Thursday night. Veterans advocates praised the move as an important message to the entire country.“The daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William Schmitz in a statement.
The flag — created in 1972 for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War — has been flown at numerous federal properties over the years, but typically only on special occasions and holidays. The history of the POW/MIA flag The history behind the POW/MIA flag and the 'missing man' table. Mandatory raising of the flag had only been required on six days each year: Armed Forces Day in May, Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, Independence Day in July, National POW/MIA Recognition Day in September, and Veterans Day in November.
Advocates began pushing for the year-long display of the flag earlier this year after some lawmakers in Washington, D.C. stopped displaying the black and white “you are not forgotten” banner outside their congressional offices. The law applies only to a specific set of federal buildings, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters. Every post office throughout the country will also be required to fly the POW/MIA flag. In addition, display of the flag will be required at every major U.S. military installation, every national cemetery, and numerous high-profile war-related sites like the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The proposal was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H.
VFW Witnesses Landmark Presidential Signing of the POW MIA Flag Act
‘This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for’
November 07, 2019
WASHINGTON – Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stood in solidarity with fellow members of the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) community as President Donald Trump signed the National POW/MIA Flag Act into law today.
“This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for,” said VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz. “Today’s presidential signing and the daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA.”
Law now requires the POW/MIA flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, office of the Director of the Selective Service System, each major military installation, each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, and each U.S. Postal Service post office.
The National POW/MIA Flag Act was initially introduced by U.S. Rep. and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jack Bergman and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas March 7, 2019. The bipartisan bill received endorsement from the VFW, the National League of POW/MIA Families, and other veterans service organizations.
“Over 82,000 men and women who’ve served our nation in uniform are unaccounted for or listed as POW/MIA, including many Michiganders,” said Congressman Bergman. “Flying this flag at federal properties 365 days a year is just a small way that we can ensure their sacrifice and devotion to our nation is never forgotten.”
Pappas added that the POW/MIA flag is a symbol of courage and sacrifice that our armed forces have given on behalf of this nation.
“I have seen how important the flag is to demonstrate that these heroes are not forgotten,” said Congressman Pappas. “By putting the flag on full display outside of prominent federal buildings, memorials, and national cemeteries, we are reaffirming our commitment to the more than 82,000 service members who remain unaccounted for.”
Prior to today’s landmark signing, the POW/MIA flag was only required to be displayed by the federal government on certain prominent federal properties only six days per year to include Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.
The National League of POW/MIA Families is the reason the POW/MIA flag exists today. The organization’s mission supports our POW/MIAs and killed-in-action from the Vietnam War by obtaining the release and return of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing, and the repatriation of remains of those not yet recovered.
Evelyn Grubb, former national coordinator of The National League of POW/MIA Families, oversaw the development of the POW/MIA flag and campaigned to gain its widespread acceptance and use by the U.S. government in 1972.
B.J. Lawrence, executive director of the VFW Washington Office, expressed his sincere appreciation for today’s signing because it only furthers the relationship the VFW has with both The National League of POW/MIA Families and the DPAA.
“The VFW continues to stand firm on its relationship and dedication with both The National League of POW/MIA Families and DPAA,” said Lawrence. “Today is a huge step in the right direction. Our nation’s leaders made a pledge to account for every service member who did not come home. This is a pledge which also holds true for today’s servicemen and women. We must always ensure that if they do fall in battle, they are not forgotten and our nation will do everything in its power to bring them home.”
Bill requiring POW/MIA flag be flown with US flag heads to Trump’s desk
Korean War Army veteran Rafael Gomez and Vietnam veteran Javier Morales
October 25, 2019
WASHINGTON — A bill requiring the POW/MIA flag to be flown with the American flag is on the verge of becoming law. The bipartisan bill — The National POW/MIA Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown with the American flag at certain memorials and federal buildings, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol, to honor unaccounted for servicemen and servicewomen from across more than 50 years of wars and conflicts.
"As the sister of three veterans, I understand the importance of honoring the sacrifices of those who have fought courageously for our country," said Warren, who is a presidential candidate for the 2020 election.
The bill passed through both chambers of Congress and now President Donald Trump must sign it into law. “We owe it to those service members and their families to ensure that our nation never forgets their sacrifices,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. More than 81,000 American troops are still unaccounted for from conflicts since World War II, according to federal data. Under current law, the POW/MIA Flag is required to be displayed by the federal government on certain prominent federal properties only six days a year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. “The POW/MIA Flag is representative of profound courage and sacrifice," said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., who introduced the House version of the bill. “By proudly displaying this symbol outside of our federal buildings, memorials, and national cemeteries, we are reaffirming our commitment to those service members and their families who have sacrificed beyond measure.”