Hello friends! Next weekend, many of us will gather at Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Novi, MI to remember those who are missing in action from the Vietnam War. I am proud to have been a member of Chapter 154’s inaugural Color Guard…we started this 27 yrs. ago! If you are in the area, please stop by. If not, please take a moment this weekend to remember those Warriors who have not come home yet.
This article is followed by a great ten minute documentary that acknowledges this event and shows what we’ve accomplished since 1986.
Vigil for vets missing in action
“On Sept. 20 and 21, our chapter honor guard will be assembling at Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Novi to conduct what we refer to as our vigil,” Brian Bobek said. He is president of Mount Clemens VVA Chapter 154 that has a Veterans Support Center in Roseville.
“This will make the 27th consecutive year that we have gathered to ensure that our veterans who are still missing in action from Vietnam will never be abandoned, and that our government understands that we will never accept anything less than total accountability of our brothers, from all wars.”
There is an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday at the “Michigan Remembers” monument. The honor guard posts members there until 5 p.m. Sept. 21, weather notwithstanding.
“In addition to posting guards, each hour on the hour, we fire a single rifle shot and read the names of all the Michigan POW-MIAs that were left behind at the end of the Vietnam War,” Bobek said.
“At midnight, our bagpiper plays from the dark recesses of the cemetery. It is our way of hoping our MIAs will hear the sounds of our voices, and find their way home to their families, allowing them some closure. What makes this year so significant is that we will be adding the name of one more Michigan recovery to the memorial,” Bobek said.
The Department of Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office announced in June that a Michigan soldier was accounted for. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Army Spc. 5 John L. Burgess, of Sutton Bay, was the crew chief of a UH-1H Iroquois helicopter that crashed in Binh Phuoc Province, South Vietnam, in 1970. He was 21. Three others also died.
From 1992 to 2012, more than a dozen joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams investigated the case in Binh Phuoc Province, recovering human remains, personal effects, military equipment, and aircraft wreckage. Burgess was identified using forensic and circumstantial evidence.
“The remains of John Lawrence Burgess have been found, identified and returned home to his family,” Bobek said. “There are presently 49 soldiers from Michigan that remain missing, and it’s understandable that recoveries are becoming fewer and further between, making this a bittersweet event. But our oath, taken many years ago, was to leave no brother behind.”
There are 1,645 American MIAs from Vietnam by count of the National League of POW-MIA Families. The Vietnamese people have 300,000 MIAs.
Jim Dudek and Dan Dobrzeniecki produced a 10-minute video about a past observance of POW/MIA Recognition Day in Novi. The link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9e9g6fN09k
NOTE: Article taken from “The Macomb Daily”, Saturday, September 14, 2013 by LINDA MAY. Picture by Dave Schoenherr
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