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Laughlin observes national POW/MIA recognition day

Junior Moreno, 47th Maintenance Directorate avionics mechanic, carries the POW/MIA flag during an observance ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 20, 2019. The flag was carried for 24 hours along the base track, where it was then carried to the wing’s capstone ceremony at Heritage Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Shelly Pedersen, Lorie Weber, and Henry Szarka, members of the 47th Maintenance Directorate, carry the POW/MIA flag during an observance ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 20, 2019. The flag was carried for 24 hours along the base track, where it was then carried to the wing’s capstone ceremony at Heritage Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Shelly Pedersen, 47th Maintenance Directorate secretary, and Lorie Weber, 47th Maintenance Directorate personnel liaison, carry the POW/MIA flag during an observance ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 20, 2019. The flag was carried for 24 hours along the base track, where it was then carried to the wing’s capstone ceremony at Heritage Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Col. Todd Dyer, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, carries the POW/MIA flag in formation to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The flag was carried for 24 hours along the base track, where it was then carried to the wing’s capstone ceremony at Heritage Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Col. Todd Dyer, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, places the POW/MIA flag at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The flag was carried for 24 hours along the base track, where it was then carried to the wing’s capstone ceremony at Heritage Park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Col. Todd Dyer, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, speaks at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The ceremony observed U.S. Armed Forces service members who were, or currently are, missing in action or prisoners of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Col. Todd Dyer, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, salutes in formation during a special retreat ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The ceremony observed U.S. Armed Forces service members who were, or currently are, missing in action or prisoners of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Members of the 47th Flying Training Wing’s honor guard secure the U.S. flag during a special retreat ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The ceremony observed U.S. Armed Forces service members who were, or currently are, missing in action or prisoners of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

Members of the 47th Flying Training Wing’s honor guard fold the U.S. flag during a special retreat ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The ceremony observed U.S. Armed Forces service members who were, or currently are, missing in action or prisoners of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

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Members of the 47th Flying Training Wing’s honor guard fold the U.S. flag during a special retreat ceremony at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day observance, Sept. 20, 2019. The ceremony observed U.S. Armed Forces service members who were, or currently are, missing in action or prisoners of war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hambor)

LUAGHLING AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- For 47 years, the National League of Families POW/MIA flag, draped in black and adorned with the symbol of service member’s foreign war internment, has sailed during observances, ceremonies, and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C.

The same flag, today, was carried in constant motion for 24 hours by Airmen at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, during the wing’s POW/MIA observance. The capstone of the ceremony, where the banner was carried to Heritage Park, marked the wing’s formal remembrance ceremony, along with a wreath laying, retreat formation and a T-38C Talon flyover formation by the 87th Flying Training Squadron.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Johnson, the 47th Flying Training Wing honor guard NCO in charge, assisted in coordinating the day’s events, and as a part of the base’s honor guard team, ensured those who participated knew the meaning of carrying the POW/MIA’s flag.

“It hits home,” Johnson said. “They’re the unseen and unknown individuals. It’s something that may not always be recognized, and luckily, captivity is something many will not have to understand or experience. It’s fantastic we have a holiday to recognize these heroes.”

Lorie Weber, 47th Maintenance Directorate personnel liaison, carried the flag for over an hour in the Texas heat. With her friends and leadership team, they, along with many others across all squadrons in Team XL, did their part in ensuring those missing, lost and forgotten will always be represented.

“The flag and this day represents the prisoners of war, the missing in action and for those who served and have served,” Weber said. “It means everything to me—country, heart and soul!”

At the ceremony, Col. Todd Dyer, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, made remarks and called upon not just Team XL, but everyone across the U.S. Armed Forces and the Nation, to take a moment to observe the day, and why no one should ever forget them.

“We will never forget their anguish, or their loved one’s sacrifices, and we will never cease our efforts to bring them home,” Dyer said. “We will keep them in our minds, not just today, but every day as we go forward. To our Nation’s heroes, our prisoners of war and missing in action, you are not forgotten.”