HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – More than 200 Team Hill Airmen kept the POW/MIA flag in motion for 24 hours around the Warrior Fitness Center’s outdoor track to commemorate POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 21.
Individuals and teams took turns carrying the flag for one or two hour periods beginning at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 as part of the run/walk event.
Master Sgt. Jason Sayre, 388th Maintenance Squadron, who organized the run had a relative, Pfc. Owen H. Conlen, who served in World War II. After the war, Conlen was activated as a Reservist to fight in the Korean conflict where he was captured and later killed.
Sayre said, “It’s personal to me,” as a member of my family was a POW/MIA in Korea in 1951. Conlen’s remains were later returned and accounted for and Sayre is still working on getting more information for his family.
Airmen from the Team Hill chiefs group and the first sergeants council carried the flag for the first block of time before handing it off to the next group of runners. Groups varied in size, but grew larger as early morning shifts coincided with early morning physical training for some units.
A group of Team Hill first responders carried the flag for the last block of time before bringing the flag to rest when taps was played and a moment of silence was observed.
Col. Aaron Blum, Reservist with the 75th Air Base Wing, provided closing remarks. Blum flew with and knew Maj. Rob Sweet who ejected from his aircraft over Iraq in 1991 and was a POW for three weeks before being released.
“We owe it to ourselves and our squadron-mates that we will watch out for each other and put our lives on the line to rescue and retrieve POW/MIAs,” said Blum.
In 2003, Blum himself was flying over Iraq when he responded to an emergency troops-in-contact near Nasiriya where a convoy was ambushed. In the ambush, 11 soldiers were killed and 5 were captured. Among the captured was Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued in a raid a week later.
“We will never forget our POW/MIAs and will continue to account for those that are still missing. We owe that to the families and friends of those that have fallen,” said Blum.