Never Forget POW/MIA

Team Shaw members participated in a vigil run to honor POW/MIAs and symbolize the United States’ perseverance in searching for POW/MIAs.

Airmen assigned to Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., run with the POW/MIA flag for POW/MIA Recognition Day at Shaw AFB, Sept. 21, 2017. Team Shaw members participated in a vigil run to honor POW/MIAs and symbolize the United States’ perseverance in searching for POW/MIAs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Airmen read aloud POW/MIA members’ names that were attached to the balloons as they floated away.

Team Shaw Airmen release balloons during a “Keeping Our Promise” Balloon Release Ceremony for POW/MIA recognition day at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 20, 2017. Airmen read aloud POW/MIA members’ names that were attached to the balloons as they floated away. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

In honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, Airmen and Soldiers took turns running in teams for 24 hours to symbolize the constant search for all POW/MIA members.

Team Shaw Airmen participate in a POW/MIA 24-hour run at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 21, 2017. In honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, Airmen and Soldiers took turns running in teams for 24 hours to symbolize the constant search for all POW/MIA members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Team Shaw members celebrated POW/MIA Recognition Day by participating in events from Sept. 18-22 “Keeping Our Promise” Balloon Release Ceremony, a 24-hour run and a POW/MIA Day ceremony.

Senior NCOs assigned to Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., jog the last stretch of a 24-hour POW/MIA run at Shaw AFB, Sept. 22, 2017. Team Shaw members celebrated POW/MIA Recognition Day by participating in events from Sept. 18-22 “Keeping Our Promise” Balloon Release Ceremony, a 24-hour run and a POW/MIA Day ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

POW/MIA Recognition Day is celebrated throughout the United States. to recognize those who sacrificed their freedom and, for some, their life.

Team Shaw Senior NCOs stand at attention before the POW/MIA flag after completing a 24-hour POW/MIA run at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day is celebrated throughout the United States. to recognize those who sacrificed their freedom and, for some, their life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

Northrup spoke of his father’s time as a POW and some of the hardships he went through.

Kurt Northrup, son of the late Master Sgt. John Northrup (prisoner of war during World War II), spoke at a POW/MIA recognition ceremony, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. Northrup spoke of his father’s time as a POW and some of the hardships he went through. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

Members of Shaw AFB participated in events, such as a balloon release ceremony, a 24-hour run and a POW/MIA ceremony to commemorate POW/MIA members.

A white wreath is displayed at the Fallen Airmen Memorial in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. Members of Shaw AFB participated in events, such as a balloon release ceremony, a 24-hour run and a POW/MIA ceremony to commemorate POW/MIA members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

In honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, members of Shaw AFB took part in events, such as a 24-hour vigil run and a recognition ceremony, to memorialize past and present POW/MIAs.

Team Shaw Airmen perform a three-round volley during a POW/MIA recognition ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. In honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, members of Shaw AFB took part in events, such as a 24-hour vigil run and a recognition ceremony, to memorialize past and present POW/MIAs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

During the ceremony, guest speaker Kurt Northrup spoke of his father’s time as a POW, four F-16CM Fighting Falcons performed a Missing Man formation fly-over and the Northrup family was presented with a gift bearing a photo of the late Master Sgt. John Northrup, prisoner of war during WWII.

Team Shaw members salute during a playing of Taps during a POW/MIA recognition ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. During the ceremony, guest speaker Kurt Northrup spoke of his father’s time as a POW, four F-16CM Fighting Falcons performed a Missing Man formation fly-over and the Northrup family was presented with a gift bearing a photo of the late Master Sgt. John Northrup, prisoner of war during WWII. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

Guest speaker Kurt Northrup discuss his father’s time as a POW during the ceremony to base members in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day.
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Four F-16CM Fighting Falcons perform a Missing Man formation fly-over during a POW/MIA ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. Guest speaker Kurt Northrup discuss his father’s time as a POW during the ceremony to base members in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

Kurt Northrup, son of Master Sgt. John Northrup, was the guest speaker at the POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony and spoke of his father’s struggles during his time as a POW.
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The Northrup family receives a gift from base leadership bearing a photo of the late Master Sgt. John Northrup, prisoner of war during WWII, during a POW/MIA recognition ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C., Sept. 22, 2017. Kurt Northrup, son of Master Sgt. John Northrup, was the guest speaker at the POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony and spoke of his father’s struggles during his time as a POW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Airmen and Soldiers at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, celebrated national POW/MIA Recognition Day with a recognition ceremony hosted by the Air Force Sergeants Association, Chapter 377, Sept. 22.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is held annually across the country. The POW/MIA flag has been flown on the third Friday of September every year since 1979, when the United States Congress passed a bill marking the day as a celebration of those who went missing or made the ultimate sacrifice.

Members of Shaw AFB recognized the event by participating in a 24-hour run and listening to guest speaker, Kurt Northrup. Airmen also took part in a candlelight vigil and a “Keeping Our Promise” Balloon Release Ceremony, Sept. 19 - 20.

Northrup is the son of the late Master Sgt. John Northrup, a prisoner of war during World War II. He was held at Luft-Stalag IV in Poland.

“Infection, dysentery and other ailments plagued the prisoners; some didn’t survive,” said Northrup. “Those who did survive will tell you that their friends will not be forgotten.”

John was later placed on a nine-day train ride to Luft-Stalag I in Barth, Germany.

“My father spoke of that fateful day when Luft-Stalag I was liberated,” said Northrup. On May 7, 1945, just a few months before the end of the war, the prisoners woke to find out all the German guards had left and the gates were wide open. “The prisoners thought it was a trick. A senior American POW ventured out and got on the intercom and told (the other POWs), ‘Stay where you are. There may be land mines outside the gate.’”

The prisoners were eventually liberated and sent stateside, and Sgt. Northrup was discharged in 1945 before reenlisting.

Currently, more than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

Team Shaw members honored the sacrifices made by POW/MIAs by running for 24 hours, to symbolize the United States’ perseverance in searching for POW/MIA heroes.

“When you hear stories about Master Sgt. Northrup, I think we’re reminded that our POWs and MIAs put our Air Force core values first, before they were even Air Force core values,” said Col. Daniel Lasica, 20th Fighter Wing commander. “Many of our POWs, of course, served in extremely difficult circumstances, and they lived those core values on a daily basis. … May we never forget.”

The POW/MIA vigil symbolizes that the American people will not give up and will always honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for America’s freedom.

“I appreciate the opportunity to share the life and words of my father,” said Northrup. “On this national POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony, I think it’s fitting to say: ‘You will not be forgotten.’”