TOMS RIVER – Around 82,000 brave American servicemen and servicewomen remain missing in action since World War II to the present time.
September 18 is National POW-MIA Day and members of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders will join with veterans’ organizations from around the nation to remember these absent heroes.
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said each “third Friday in September has been declared National POW-MIA Day and I ask all Ocean County residents to join with the Board of Freeholders and honor our brave troops who sacrificed all for their nation and freedom.”
Vicari noted while the number of missing soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen continues to slowly decline, today there are still more than 81,900 Americans listed as missing from World War II through to today’s ongoing War on Terror.
“Ocean County never forgets its veterans. We remember and thank those who sacrificed so much for their nation,” Vicari added.
Freeholder Gerry P. Little said that about 72,600 missing Americans to date are from World War II, 7,600 from Korea, 1,586 from Vietnam, 108 from the Cold War Era and five from the Gulf Wars.
“The county is home to more than 38,000 veterans, so POW-MIA Day takes on an added significance in our communities where so many people have worn the uniform of the United States military,” said Little, who is liaison to the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau.
Vicari and Little joined with the VFW and called on federal officials to do all that is possible to locate and return the remains of America’s fighting men and women from around the world.
During a recent meeting of the Board of Freeholders, Vicari called for a moment of silence to remember the nation’s POWs and MIAs.
Vicari said, “the fate of these valiant Americans remains unknown,” Vicari said. “Please pause for a moment and remember not only the troops, but their families, some of which have lived for decades without answers about their loved ones.”
The hunt for the remains of MIAs goes on and in recent years, several remains of U.S. servicemen were found in Cambodia and returned home for proper identification and burial.
The Freeholder Director will be a speaker at a ceremony honoring POWs and MIAs on September 19. That event is being sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion Detachment of New Jersey, the overnight ceremony will run from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 am Sunday morning on the bay beach, 1200 Route 35.
Congress first proclaimed POW-MIA Day in 1979. From 1986 on, the third Friday of each September was declared POW-MIA Day.