Praying for closure Candlelight service held for POW/MIA Day

By on September 26, 2012

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

Photos by Preston WhitcraftLocal veterans and community members met at Lititz Springs Park last Friday night to remember prisoners of war and those still missing.

A small crowd gathered in front of Lititz Springs Park to shed some light on a big issue that doesn’t seem to get enough attention — missing soldiers from our country’s wars and conflicts.

Sept. 21 was National POW/MIA Recognition Day, a moment to set aside military men and women, from World War I to the Iraq War, who are unaccounted for to this day.

"These people need to be honored and not forgotten, because their families don’t have closure," said Anne Loechner, Lititz VFW Ladies Auxiliary member and one of the organizers of the event. "We’ll keep praying and keep pushing our government to never give up the search."

Among the missing are three neighbors of the Lititz community:

? James Edward Hunsicker of Denver, a soldier in the U.S. Army who vanished in South Vietnam on April 24, 1972.

? Henry Gerald Gish of Lancaster, U.S. Air Force, who disappeared in Laos on March 11, 1968.

? George Robert Weaver, Jr., U.S. Navy, who was reported missing in South Vietnam on Nov. 1, 1966.

Lititz VFW Commander Joel Ellis, along with Lititz Mayor Ron Oettel and State Rep. John Bear, spoke at a candlelight ceremony as a steady stream of Route 501 traffic passed nearby. Oettel read from a proclamation that reminded those in attendance that 1,661 are still missing or unaccounted for in Indochina, for example, "and their families still suffer untold grief due to uncertainty about their fate."

The plan is to make this an annual event in downtown Lititz, and organizers hope to improve on attendance. Even though the service was previewed in the Record Express and through other media outlets, the overall turnout was less than expected.

"I was disappointed that we got no one from the public," Loechner said. "I thought for sure we’d get somebody, so I was pretty bummed out about that. But it was still a very nice ceremony."

Afterward, Mayor Oettel had this to say:

"The members of Post 1463, and particularly Ann Loechner, did a great job of putting together a wonderful and meaningful ceremony to remember the POW/MIAs. It is very unfortunate that there aren’t more folks from the community that come out to share in these ceremonies and pay tribute. The VFW Post 1463 deserves much credit and praise for all they do for this community through their many activities and their financial support of so many different groups and organizations. I appreciate all they do and hope that the community will always support them." More POW/MIA, page A6

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