ESCANABA – Veteran groups and community leaders gathered Thursday afternoon for a POW/MIA Recognition Day program at the Delta County Veteran’s Memorial in Ludington Park. It included a special recognition from a son to his father, an ex-POW.
Vietnam vet and District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of the Elks Club Dave Wilson spoke at the event. He talked about the importance of the day.
“As our armed forces defend our homeland from threats in a changing world, we remain committed to a profound obligation that dates to the earliest days of our founding. The United States does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind,” he said.
Wilson talked about the efforts of Bob Valley of Escanaba to identify remains from Pearl Harbor. Valley has struggled to help families find relatives who served on the USS Oklahoma in hopes of finding his brother. Lowell Valley was 19 years old when he served on the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by the Japanese.
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Following Wilson’s remarks, Tom Carmody of Escanaba was introduced. Carmody was a prisoner of war in World War II.
Frank Berres read a letter from Caromdy’s son, Tommy Carmody of Banning, Calif., who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. It read:
“I am writing this letter because of the special connection I have with the POW/MIA program and the recognition you are giving them today.
“I am a veteran of the Vietnam conflict 1968-1971, After finishing two years of my service and while in the Gulf of Tonkin, the chaplain came and told me I could go home if I wanted to and not finish my additional two years.
“You see, the Navy had overlooked the fact that I was the sole surviving son of an ex-POW from World War II. I never had to serve any time in the service and most particularly not in a combat zone.
“When I weighed going home and facing my father versus what the U.S. Navy could do to me it was an easy decision – I stayed.
“I am who I am today, all my successes and achievements and maybe just a couple of tiny mistakes because of my upbringing. I was taught the sense of discipline, responsibility, respect and duty to God and country.
“We and all future generations must never forget the ex-POWs and MIAs. Those that are with us and those who have passed.
“Thank you Dad.
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The program began with an invocation from Jerry Hausmann from the Marine Corp League and the singing of the National Anthem by Kelly Smith. At the end of the program, Amvets Post #123 under the direction of John Anderson gave a rifle salute followed by taps. Hausmann closed the program with a prayer.
Attending the program were members of the American Legion, VFW, Amvets, Marine Corp League, Vietnam Veterans, D.A.V., Purple Heart, Patroit Guard, Elks 354 and Eagles 1088. Also attending were Escanaba Mayor Marc Tall, State Rep. Ed McBroom, State Sen. Tom Casperson and Delta County District Judge candidate John Economopoulos.