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Keep the Light Burning: SJAFB honors POW/MIA

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MARCOA Media
Story by SSgt Michael Charles on 09/19/2019
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. --

Heritage Park sits as a reminder of the 4th Fighter Wing legacy. Each aircraft from the F-4 Phantom II to the F-86 Sabre, respectively, points to the center of the park to pay homage to past, present and future operators.

However, a landmark just as special, occupies space at the center of the park.

Surrounded by the 4 FW legacy wall, which annotates every conflict the wing has participated in its history, you will find red stones with special words on them.

Etched into each brick is the name of each service member that has been given the status of Prisoner of War or Missing in Action while serving in the 4 FW or its legacy units. These bricks surround the Missing Man Formation Fountain, which can be seen at the heart of the park; directly in front of the North Carolina state flag, Old Glory and the official POW/MIA flag.

It was from this spot that members of Team Seymour joined the community to hold a Prisoners of War/Missing in Action ceremony, Sept. 18, 2019, on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

More than 75 attendees reflected on those who have endured the horrors of being held captive by enemies of the United States or are still missing in action.

During the ceremony, Col. Brian Montgomery, 4th Fighter Wing vice commander, reaffirmed the Air Force commitment to never forgetting those who have yet to come home after serving overseas.

"We must never forget," he exclaimed. "We have an obligation to remember our fallen comrades who have yet to come home. Events like this show that we have not forgotten. We will renew our commitment to each of them and their families. We will never stop trying to bring them home."

Goldsboro City Councilman Bill Broadway took time to explain the meaning of each setting of the POW/MIA table, which appears at every military ceremony. He also shared several stories from his interactions with his service member friends, many of who were prisoners of war.

"Each of them are the most selfless and courageous people I have ever met," Broadway said. Their stories will forever by remembered by me and their legacy is carried on in each of you.

The ceremony kicked-off the installation's POW/MIA Remembrance Week, which runs from Sept. 16-19. Typically, Seymour Johnson AFB hosts POW/MIA week to coincide with the National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which takes place this year on Sept. 20, 2019, and honors service members from all branches.

The ceremony also featured a missing-man formation flyover by four F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 4 FW and a reading of the Prisoner of War Code of Conduct.
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Immediately following the opening ceremony, a motorcycle precession led participants to the start of a 24-hour run for the POW/MIA flag. The run symbolizes the nations constant search to ensure all military members who are MIA can be found and will be able to return home.

Among those to run the flag was Master Sgt. Elijah Docker, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron assistant first sergeant. He says that when asked about the opportunity, he felt honored.

"I'm always happy to be part of an event that remembers all of those that came before me," Docker said. "These individuals are heroes. Just to be asked to participate is always an honor."

While the POW/MIA week may be just one week of the year, Seymour Johnson AFB continues to honor those who are missing.

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