Mill Park luncheon honors military POWs and MIAs

Here’s why an American Legion post in Mill Park was part of a nationwide day of remembrance for Prisoners of War and those Missing In Action …

At the entrance to American Legion Portland Post #1, in outer East Portland, is a table, symbolically set, for the armed forces service member who is being held as a Prisoner of War, or is listed as Missing in Action.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On the third Friday of every month, military veterans from World War II and the Korean War meet for a luncheon at the American Legion Portland Post #1 – “The Service Post” – to remember those lost while in service.

But, the observance held on “National POW/MIA Recognition Day 2018”, on September 21, was special – attracting a standing-room-only crowd. The governors of 38 states issued proclamations for this day, although Oregon Governor Kate Brown did not join in doing so, according to a representative of the national organization.

During this special luncheon, speakers encourage those present to help the make sure all service members are “accounted for”.

American Legion District 8 District Commander Larry Wittmayer spends a moment with Portland Post #1 Commander Dennis W. Washam, and 1st Vice Commander John Bolner.

“Thanks to the efforts of the National League of POW/MIA Families, the U.S. President proclaimed this day to be ‘National POW/MIA Recognition Day’,” said the post’s 1st Vice Commander John Bolner, while the buffet luncheon was underway.

“We glad to see we’ve had a really good turnout this month for this special event,” Bolner told East Portland News. “It is always an honor to give homage to these men and women who have given so much, and done so much, for our country; it’s our pleasure to honor them while they can appreciate it.”

One of those honored at the luncheon is this veteran, Phil W. Chaperon.

One of the honorees was 98 years old Phil W. Chaperon. “I was in the U.S. Army Air Corps,” he affirmed. “I went in the Army in 1942, and got out in 1945; I served as left-side ‘waist gunner’ on a B-17. It was dangerous; I started one day, and the next day, the crew on that flight was shot down.

“I appreciate being here today, and for the honor presented by the people here at this American Legion,” smiled Chaperon.

Honored vets, post members and guests take time to remember our armed services’ POWs and MIAs.

America’s POW/MIAs can be honored and recognized, but should not memorialized; the national organization focuses on sustaining commitment to “account for those missing as fully as possible”, we learned from the speakers at the luncheon.

“I’m proud to be part of this remembrance of all those people sacrificed everything, including their lives in many cases, for our country,” reflected American Legion District 8 District Commander Larry Wittmayer. “And, it’s also important to bring awareness to the younger generations that ‘freedom isn’t free’.”

To learn more about “The Service Post”, and all the programs and services it offers to the community, visit their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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