Local leaders, service members honor POWs and those lost in action

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Former prisoners of war and those missing in action are being{} honored with a series of events on Joint Base Charleston.The events started Thursday and will continue through Friday, September 20.

Governor Nikki Haley issued a statewide proclamation designating Sept. 20 as Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day."We proclaimed today POW/MIA Recognition Day throughout S.C. to remember those who have suffered the horrors of enemy captivity, those who have yet to return, and the families who maintain their steadfast vigil in search of peace that only comes with certainty," said Governor Nikki Haley. "All flags are lowered today in honor of these heroes. We will never forget."A 24-hour Vigil Run started on Joint Base at 3:30 Thursday afternoon. Around 200 service members from all branches of the armed services, Department of Defense employees, family members and local Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets will run in teams of four for 30-minute increments. The run ends at 3:30 Friday.There was a POW/MIA Recognition Luncheon scheduled at noon Thursday. Seventeen former POWs and their spouses were honored and former POW, retired USAF Lt. Col. Tom Hanton was the guest speaker. "We are thankful everyday for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who sacrifice to keep us all safe," Senator Tim Scott said in a release Friday. "Today is a day to remember, but also a day to celebrate the bravery and patriotism of thousands of Americans either taken as a prisoner of war or who remain missing in action."On Friday, a POW/MIA Retreat Ceremony is planned. Chief Master Sgt. Earl Hannon, the 628th Air Base Wing command chief, will deliver the POW/MIA flag to the base flag pole, signifying the end of the vigil run at 3:30 p.m. and the beginning of the retreat ceremony.The retreat ceremony will be conducted by the Joint Base Charleston honor guard and members from the 628th ABW and 437th Airlift Wing. It will include a wreath laying ceremony by the installation commander and a former POW, reading of the Code of Conduct, retirement of the colors, playing of TAPS and a 21-gun salute."The strength and determination of those taken as a prisoner of war, oftentimes enduring unspeakable hardships, is absolutely amazing. We simply cannot thank you enough," said Sen. Scott. "To those Americans who are missing in action, your service and sacrifice is not and never will be forgotten. Although we may not be able to share our appreciation with you directly, you are always in our hearts. And to the families who have stayed strong, enduring years and even decades of uncertainty, we are here for you. Your loved ones are true heroes, and America will always be grateful."