Rolling Thunder, Inc., NC Chapter 5, held their annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, Sept 20.
In the United States, National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September. It honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. At this year’s ceremony, the guest of honor was Harold Lee Frank, a World War II veteran who was formerly a POW for ten months.
“I was held captive for almost a year and lost about 90 lbs” said Frank. “I was worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I had a bullet stuck in my shoulder that was infected, until a doctor took it out three months later. I was held at Stalag 4B near Muhlberg, Germany. There were 107 of us captured, but only 60 of us were left when we were liberated.”
Rolling Thunder set up a “missing man” table which pays tribute to those still missing.
“The major function of Rolling Thunder, Inc., is to publicize the POW-MIA issue,” said Paul Levesque, a retired Marine master gunnery sergeant and member of Rolling Thunder. “We are here to educate the public that many American POWs were left behind after all previous wars, to help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become POW/MIA.”
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), over 81,000 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War and the Gulf Wars as well as other conflicts.
“We will not forget them or their sacrifice,” Levesque said. “We will continue to raise awareness as long as they are still missing. That’s why we set the table; it’s a reminder that not everyone is home and a sign of hope that we will continue to look.”
“Whenever things got bad over there, and I thought I couldn’t take one more day, I could hear my mama praying for me,” Frank said. “Whether you are at war or at home, we all have battles to fight. The important thing is to never give up. Keep going. It is the only way we ever make it through.”