Candlelight vigil to honor POWs and MIAs

By on September 6, 2017
Brigadier General David E. Wood

Brigadier General David E. Wood

Brigadier General David E. Wood will be guest speaker

Every year since 1989, our country remembers and honors military men and women who remain missing in action or are prisoners of war.

This year, the Lititz VFW will hold a candlelight vigil on Sept. 15 to honor the POWs and MIAs with guest speaker Brigadier General David E. Wood, who serves as director of the Joint Staff for the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Kathy McCullough, senior vice president for the VFW Auxiliary, said attendees at this year’s event will receive a candle prior to the service at the Oehme Gazebo in Lititz Springs Park.

She said Gen. Wood matches perfectly into the event’s purpose to remind the nation to rededicate efforts to bring “our patriots home and to care for our military families awaiting word of their loved ones.”

“General Wood was selected for a couple of reasons,” she said. “He is a member of Lititz VFW, and because he is someone that is responsible for members of our local national guardsmen — local men and women.”

Gen. Wood, a Manheim Township resident, is a 1981 graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School.

He was commissioned in 1987 through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at the University of Notre Dame. He served on active duty for over 11 years as an Army aviator with duty in Europe, Persian Gulf, Korea, and the United States.

General Wood has since served in the Pennsylvania National Guard in key command and staff assignments within the 28th Infantry Division, the 213th Regional Support Command, and the Pennsylvania Joint Forces Headquarters. His most recent assignment was Chief of Staff, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed annually on the third Friday in September. The tradition began in 1989 by presidential proclamation.

On Sept. 15, The POW/MIA Flag will fly at the Capitol, White House, Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, the offices of the secretaries of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs, of the Selective Service System, and on the grounds or in the lobbies of every major military installation, every post office, and all VA Medical Centers and national cemeteries.

McCullough noted that Wood’s responsibilities include managing programs and operations for the Pennsylvania Joint Staff and overseeing issues that impact 19,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

“I am sure he has concerns every day that he never has to have one of his troops become a POW or an MIA,” she said. “All service members that I know want to be sure that all come home.”

McCullough discussed her days working at a Veterans Administration hospital in Vermont.

“I had patients there from World War II who had been POWs,” she said. “Some shared their stories; some didn’t want to talk about their experiences.”

She noted her experience participating in her first POW/MIA event with the Lititz VFW a few years ago.

“One of the names read was of the brother of an 80-year-old gentlemen that we worked with,” McCullough said. “His brother was shot down in Vietnam and his body was never recovered. When we told our friend that his brother had been remembered at our POW/MIA service he began to cry…that’s when you know that doing this remembrance is important and worth doing.”

The entire community is encouraged to attend this event.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer and social media editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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