Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 1999

FLAG HONORS POWSMIAS

September 15, 1999

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A VFW leader in Lawrence said he wasn't surprised that remains of Americans continue to be found in Southeast Asia.

About 30 people gathered downtown Sunday morning for a flag-raising ceremony to mark the beginning of a week meant to remember Americans missing in wars.

"We wanted to just recognize the start of POW-MIA Week," said Vern Russell, junior vice commander at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Alford-Clarke Post No. 852 in Lawrence. "We've been doing it for the last several years."

Veterans also will close POW-MIA Week by conducting a POW-MIA recognition ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday at the VFW post, 138 Ala.

The ceremony will be open to the public.

The names of more than 30 Kansas men who are missing will be read at the ceremony, Russell said, candles will be lit for each of the men, and balloons will be released.

POW-MIA Week comes following last week's announcement that the remains of what is presumed to be four more American soldiers were being sent to the United States from Vietnam.

"It doesn't surprise me that one or two come out every six months," Russell said. "It may be slow progress, but it is some progress."

Last week, during a visit to Johnson County Community College, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. William Crowe, said "we had a continual succession of reports" of POWs and MIAs in Vietnam while he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

"We have not been able to confirm a single one," Crowe said.

"I think, as far as the American side, we're doing everything we can, but I think all of this hinges on the local country," Russell said about Crowe's comments. "If you can't get the local civilians of that country to help, you're not going to get anywhere."

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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