By- Rancho High School AFJROTC Peter Shin • Photos By- Su Phelps
On September 15, 2017, the annual POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony was held at Freedom Park in Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Brigadier General Jeannie M. Leavitt, the 57th Wing Commander also gave an appreciation/recognition speech for the MIAs and POWs in the nation. Ex-POWs: Vincent Shank, Gene Ramos, and Dean Whitaker were some of the many POWs who came to the event.
They also announced the names of Nevadan Servicemen, Nellis AFB Servicemen, and Former POW in Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery listed as MIA/POW, and thanked the American Ex-POW 7-11 Chapter of Las Vegas, Nevada members and their families. People all over the nation pause on this day to give recognition to the POW’s who have fought so bravely for our country and those who are MIA and their families.
The POW/MIA flag was designed by Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and a member of the National League of Families. She recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs and designed a flag to represent our missing men and women. This flag reminds everyone of the POW/MIAs that sacrificed themselves for our country which the color guard presented with other flags to kick off the ceremony.
This year, a representative from Governor Brian Sandoval’s office, representatives from Senator Dean Heller and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s office, and a representative from the office of Congresswoman Dina Titus came to show their appreciation for the POW/MIAs. US Army Ret. Les Brown, the founder of the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association also showed up to the event to give a speech about the importance of this event and why people pause to remember the veterans who sacrificed their lives for our country.
Every year, Rancho HS AFJROTC cadets go to Nellis AFB to give their appreciation and recognition to the veterans. This year, the Rancho HS Choir sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony while the Color Guard from Nellis AFB presented the flags, and the Rancho AFJROTC ADT also performed for the audience. The cadets from Rancho HS placed a flower for the MIAs and saluted them afterwards, remembering what they have done for our country.
After the remembrance ceremony, pilots from the Nellis AFB performed the Missing Man Formation. The Missing Man Formation is an aerial solute to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, the formation has one member missing like so many of our nations heroes gone missing in their fight for America’s freedom. Nelson Reynolds who is the Vice Commander of the Scottish American Military Society Post 777 played some songs on the Bagpipe for everyone and when he finished, the Choir from Rancho HS concluded the event by singing the song “America the Beautiful”.