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POW/MIA, you are not forgotten

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The prisoner of war, missing in action flag wavers in the wind during the closing ceremony of the POW/MIA 24-hour run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The run was in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day to remember service members who went missing or were prisoners of war, as well as the many who made the ultimate sacrifice. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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Airmen run in the early morning during the 24-hour prisoner of war, missing in action vigil run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Sept. 15, 2017 marked the 38th anniversary of the National POW/MIA Recognition Day, honoring military members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

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Airmen run in the early morning hours during the 24-hour POW/MIA run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The run was in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day to remember service members who went missing or were prisoners of war, as well as the many who made the ultimate sacrifice. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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Schriever First Sergeants run with the POW/MIA flag during the POW/MIA 24-hour run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday Sept. 14, 2017. The flag was passed from one group to another during the two days, and travelled a total of 134 miles, with 157 participants. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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Airmen run in formation during the 24-hour prisoner of war, missing in action vigil run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed to recognize America's commitment to bring them home on the third Friday of September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

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Airmen run at dawn during the 24-hour prisoner of war, missing in action vigil run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Participants carried the commemorative flag a total of 134 miles during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

In 1979, Congress passed a resolution establishing a national prisoner of war, missing in action day historically on the third Friday of every September.  

Sept. 15, 2017, marked the 38th anniversary of the National POW/MIA Recognition Day, honoring military members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Tiek, 50th Space Wing command chief, gave the opening speech for the POW/MIA 24-hour vigil run at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Sept. 14.

“Thank you for attending and participating in our National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day, 24-hour vigil run” Tiek said. “An event like this is not easily orchestrated and planned.”

Tiek explained the day’s is significance, especially to military personnel.

“The point of this annual event is to reflect upon the trials and tribulations, to pay respect to those who have served and have been imprisoned during times of war, to honor our missing members and their families and to ultimately ensure Americans never forget our government’s commitment to account for all those who have not returned.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Portmann Werner, 50th Space Wing chaplain, gave an invocation before the first group of runners began the vigil.  

“Those who leave, never to return, we remember. Those who return, but are never the same, we remember. For those who lost their freedom while ensuring we never lose ours, we remember. For those families who wait for the missing, we remember.

For those in pain and agony, be it of the body, of the mind, or of the spirit, we remember. We will always remember, we will always be proud,” he said.

The event continued for a full 24-hours, each group of participants slotted to run for 30 minutes and carry the commemorative POW/MIA flag.

Ninety-five runners pre-registered, but the end tally included 157 participants. The flag traveled a total of 134 miles during the 24-hour vigil.

Tiek closed the event Sept. 15 with statistics from the Congressional Research Service.                    

From World War II to present, there have been 138,103 POWs, 16,837 died while in captivity, and 83,114 have been missing.

“Thank you all for honoring our POWs and our MIAs,” Tiek said. “We should never forget. We should always remember.”

Sarah D’Alessandro, 50th Force Support Squadron military personnel flight chief, decided to participate in the event to help raise awareness for this special day.

“It's a salute to our brothers and sisters who fought alongside us but never made it home due to imprisonment and captivity,” she said. “For myself and the Air Force, it means honoring our heroes who were prisoners or who have gone missing while guarding our freedom and country.

It's days like these that help us keep the faith alive that one day we will bring all our POWs and MIAs home again.”

Tiek echoed D’Alessandro’s sentiment.

“As you can see, our country remains committed to bringing our service members home,” he said. “Your attendance and participation in events like this ensures we never forget, and as the flag says, ‘You are not forgotten.’”

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