POW/MIA run offers reflection on sacrifices

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
As I stood in formation on the morning of Sept. 21, I could see two flags through the thick fog that hung low over the President George W. Bush Air Park at Moody Field. The American flag flew high over the base, its prestige illuminated in the darkness. The other was a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Flag held by an Airman at the head of the formation. That black flag showed the silhouette of a man in front of a POW camp and was the reason we were in formation that morning.

That day Team Moody came together to pay tribute to POWs and MIAs by running a 23 mile relay from the air park, through downtown Valdosta and finishing at the Moody Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial Park. At each mile, a different unit passed off the black POW/MIA flag until the final unit arrived at the memorial park.

As part of the 23d Wing Staff, my unit and I started the run at the air park. We had only planned to run a few miles to join another unit that was short of some people. But following the lead of the command chief and a few fellow Airmen, I ran nine miles with the formation.

Although a very small way to pay respect to POWs and MIA, I was glad to have the opportunity. For me, this topic hits especially close to home. Two of my family members were Prisoners of War and an additional two still missing.

My uncle often tells me stories about his time in captivity. He tells me about the things he endured, the fear of initial capture and his time in captivity, waiting to finally get back home.

These stories are inspiring to me. Whenever I'm having a rough time at work or in the middle of a tough workout, I will think about these stories. That always seems to put things into perspective.

That same uncle often tells me stories about my great-grandfather, who is still missing, and his brother who went missing when he was only 17.

As the sun came up that morning during the run, I couldn't help but imagine what my family members and all POW/MIA have endured. I wondered what could have happened to those two family members whom I never got to meet.

With the muffled sound of shoes hitting the pavement, I wondered who else in the formation knew someone who was a POW or is MIA. Seeing so many people running that day, taking time out of their busy workday convinced me that the motto, "You are not forgotten" is true.