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Seymour Johnson pays homage to POWs/MIAs

Ret. Capt. Kevin Hynes gives his opening remarks during the Prisoner(s) of War/Missing in Action ceremony, Sept. 14, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Hynes served as a squadron intelligence officer and navigator in Vietnam, and flew C-123K cargo planes after the war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart salute the flag during the singing of the National Anthem, Sept. 14, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The mission of the MOPH is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie amongst combat wounded veterans, to promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives, and to provide service to all veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

The base honor guard presents the colors at the start of the Prisoner(s) of War/Missing in Action ceremony, Sept. 14, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. At present, more than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf wars, and other conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders ride in formation to escort runners holding the Prisoner(s) of War/Missing in Action flag for the opening ceremony, Sept. 14, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The Patriot Guard Riders is an organization based in the United States whose members attend the funerals of members of the United States military, firefighters and police at the invitation of the deceased’s family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

A black flag; the silhouette of a man in front of a tower and rifle -- this representation reflects the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flag created in 1971.

At present, more than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other conflicts; but the truth still remains, “You are not forgotten.”

Events were held throughout the week in honor of all prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Armstrong, 4th Operations Support Squadron airfield management NCO in charge, held a 24-hour vigil, which started Sept. 13 and lasted until the next day.

“This vigil was to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Armstrong said.

The vigil consisted of a team of three who would rotate out each hour for the 24-hour time period. For that hour, two members ran along a two-mile track while carrying the POW/MIA flag while the third team member read off the names of the POW/MIA’s from North Carolina. In total, 72 members participated in the vigil.

“With creating the events in honor of Prisoners of War, it makes me have a better understanding of the sacrifices those family members have had to go through,” Armstrong said. “It makes me feel good and motivates me to continue to fight for our freedom.”

Along with the vigil, a closing ceremony was held on the last day of the run. Members of Team Seymour, alongside military veterans and local Boy Scouts, came out to pay homage for the missing.

The ceremony consisted of an appearance from the base honor guard and a speech from distinguished visitor, retired Capt. Kevin Hynes.

Hynes joined the Air Force in 1963 and trained to be a B-52 bombardier/navigator. He went to Vietnam in 1967, serving as a squadron intelligence officer and navigator. His brother, who also served in the military, was shot down and served a year as a POW in Stalag Luft III, a concentration camp in Germany.

In closing the ceremony, Col. Brian Armstrong, 4th Fighter Wing vice commander, gave his ending remarks.

“I believe I speak for all service members when I say I am inspired by the integrity, the fierce loyalty, resolve, and the courage displayed by American Prisoners of War,” the commander said. “Let us be reminded of the sacrifice it takes to be a part of the world’s most powerful military and the price that is paid to be free.”