In honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day on September 18, 2020, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) Chapter 371 is hosting an inaugural series of commemorative activities to remember our nation’s prisoners of war and those service members who are missing in action. The memorial week will begin with a 12-mile Ruck March on September 14 with the final event being a 24-hour Run/Walk Remembrance Vigil on September 17-18. The week will also include a Veteran Dinner at the American Legion Riders Post 11 in Dudley, NC on September 16.
“The Air Force Sergeant’s Association, Chapter 371, is proud of our long standing tradition of honoring our Prisoners of War as well as our Missing in Action veterans,” shared Jason Bowers, AFSA Chapter 371 President. “The organization holds this annual event close to our hearts as we continue our mission focus of representing the professional and personal interests of our military members past, present, and future. We strive to provide our POW/MIA brothers and sisters the decorum befitting of a hero.”
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year. While the recognition day is not a public holiday, many Americans across the United States pause to remember the sacrifices and service of the nation’s POW and MIA service members and their families. Historically, military installations fly the symbolic POW/MIA flag on this day, and veterans around the country host rallies to pay their respects. This is the first time that formal remembrance ceremonies and activities to observe the significance of the day will take place in Goldsboro-Wayne County.
Nikki Bowers, the AFSA Chapter 371 Event Coordinator, explains the mission of the organization with “we are charged with ensuring our military members are taken care of on Capitol Hill, lobbying for those rights that they have earned by serving our great nation. But there is another side to us a more enduring and humbling side. That side has the amazing responsibility remembering those who have paved the way for us and allowed us to serve in the capacity we do today. Every year we dedicate a week to remember our POW/MIA brothers and sisters to include their family. This remembrance would not be anywhere close to possible if it weren’t for the amazing community of Goldsboro! The incredible outpour of volunteers that have helped us out and community support is an amazing reminder as to why we do this day in and day out.”
The POW/Mia Inaugural Ruck March on September 14 starts and finishes at the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex. The 12-mile out-and-back course incorporates the historical marker for Private Dan Bullock, a Wayne County native who was the youngest American to be killed in action during the Vietnam War at the age of 15. In honor of his young age, the Ruck March requires the participants’ backpack to don 15% of their bodyweight in non-perishable food that will be donated to the United Way of Wayne County for distribution. Teams or individuals can register no later than September 13. Facial coverings are required upon check-in at the race start point, and AFSA is taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy during the event. More information can be found here and on Facebook. Registration fees are $20 for individuals and $60 for teams of four.
A POW/MIA Veteran Dinner is planned to take place September 16 from 3-9 p.m. at the American Legion Riders Post 11 located in Dudley, N.C. All are welcome to the wing dinner that helps support the Legion Post. It is an opportunity to spend time with local veterans, listen to stories, and give thanks to those who have served in the armed forces. More information can be found here. It is free to attend, and dinner prices start at $3.
Starting at midnight on September 17, the 24-Hour Run/Walk Remembrance Vigil will rein in the official POW/MIA Recognition Day. The AFSA Chapter 371 needs help to keep the flag moving for the entire 24 hours, so they invite the public to help carry the POW/MIA flag during a portion of the 24-hour event. The organization is also calling on volunteers to help read the names of our POW/MIA service members while the flag is being carried. Participants can walk or run with the flag, and the event is free to participate. Individuals or teams can sign up by visiting here. More information about the event can be found on Facebook.
All events coordinated by AFSA’s Chapter 371 for National POW/MIA Recognition Day are open to the public. You do not have to have special credentials or military status to participate. Information about the memorial week events can be found on Visit Goldsboro’s Facebook page and by visiting the events tab at www.visitgoldsboronc.com.