More than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the 1991 Gulf War, but last August, the remains of Starke County’s last known Vietnam POW/MIA, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Andy Howe, were returned to Starke County. Forty years after his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam, Howes returned home to a hero’s welcome.
In honor of those missing or lost, the third Friday in September is nationally observed as POW/MIA day. This year, that date falls on Sept. 21.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 748 Commander Bob Sims says the POW/MIA flag is flown 365 days a year at every VFW post. A POW/MIA table and an empty chair with a POW/MIA cover are also at every meeting, conference, and convention, and Sims says those will remain there until all missing or lost are accounted for.
The remains of Howes were returned by the Vietnamese government and identified in Hawaii through advanced DNA-identification techniques before being returned to Starke County, but many remain missing or lost. Hundreds of Department of Defense men and women work in organizations around the world as part of the department’s personnel recovery and accounting committees.
This Friday, as the country remembers, honors, and prays for those who are still unaccounted for, Americans must also remember the families of those lost overseas who continue to wait with baited breath for word on their loved ones.