By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Little Rock Air Force Base honored prisoners of war/missing in action with a 24-hour run, remembrance luncheon and retreat ceremony Sept. 20 and 21.
Over 81,000 service members are still missing. To show reverence to those service members, different squadrons on the base took shifts from 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 21 to run on the base track with someone always keeping the POW/MIA flag in motion.
“The run is an annual event to pay tribute to those who have gone before us,” said Master Sgt. Bryan Bissonnette, the 19th Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant and main point of contact for the event. “It also reminds us of those individuals who are still missing and that the government will make every effort to bring them home.”
At the remembrance luncheon, Sept. 21, the honored guests were three former POWs, Wayne Elliott, Audrey Harris and Warren Taylor. Along with other Team Little Rock members, in attendance were the Airmen from First Term Airman Center. The purpose of the luncheon was to have the newest Airman experience firsthand the testimony of their fellow countrymen that have endured hard times while proving what it means to live by the code of conduct and core values, while serving the nation honorably. The Airmen sat and listened as these men told the stories of how they were captured and held captive. At the end, the Airmen were allowed to ask questions. One airman asked the men, “What was it that got you through those tough times?” Harris said it was his faith in God that kept him strong.
Later that day, Col. Brian Robinson, 19th Airlift Wing commander, took control of the flag for its final run. He started at the base track and headed to Heritage Park where the retreat ceremony took place. Also running with Robinson were other Team Little Rock senior leaders, Airmen and Marines. Along with the POW/MIA flag, there were flags being carried as well to represent each branch of service.
“It’s a privilege to honor those individuals who gave it all and to show the respect they deserve,” said Bissonnette. “For those former POWs with us today, it’s the smallest token of appreciation we can do as an active duty military to thank them for the sacrifices they have endured.”