Fred Shockey III doesn’t want younger generations to forget the pain families go through when American soldiers become either prisoners of war or missing in action.
“You want to bring them home, just like your kids,” said Shockey, 34, who lives in Wamego with his wife and two daughters.
Shockey retired as an Army sergeant first class in 2004. He suffered a neck injury in 2000 after serving six months in Kosovo.
He will speak in Lawrence on Friday as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 852 commemorates National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The public ceremony begins at 6 p.m. at the post, 138 Ala., just east of Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The ceremony will include a rifle volley, and Jerry Karr, the VFW post commander, said they will read aloud the names of Kansas military members who are either prisoners of war or missing in action.
Karr, a Vietnam veteran and retired Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical battalion chief, said the VFW tries to keep the pressure on Congress and the military to work to bring captured military personnel home or their remains back.
“We just want the families to have closure,” Karr said. “That’s what it is all about.”
Shockey participates in physical therapy because of his injuries. He remembers when three American soldiers were captured before he was deployed there.
In recent wars, it has become less common practice, he said, for the enemy to take American soldiers captive in large numbers because military strategy has improved, Shockey said. But it’s still important to commemorate those who are still missing, he said.
“If we don’t carry and continue that on,” Shockey said, “then it’s going to be forgotten, and the lessons that we learned from that 40 to 50 years ago will be forgotten.”