Veterans Honor Prisoners of War and those Still Missing
WALLA WALLA, Wash.- Hundreds of veterans gathered in Walla Walla Friday to honor the men and women who were imprisoned during war, and those still missing.
The ceremony was part of nationwide remembrance of POW-MIA Recognition Day.
The celebrations nationwide are meant to honor the hundreds of thousands of American POW's and others still missing in action, and for vets like Henry Witecka and John Teager, it was an especially touching event.
The wind blew just strong enough Friday to reveal the POW-MIA flag flying high above the Walla Walla VA.
"It's difficult to imagine but 80,000 American troops are unaccounted for from conflict since WWII," said Lt. Col. Anthony Hofmann.
For Vietnam vets like Henry Witecka and John Teager, Friday's ceremonies have extra meaning.
Witecka was accidentally injured when American troops bombed him in Vietnam. The man who sewed his leg back together was Teager.
"He did actually save my life, if it wasn't for John, I would have bled to death," said Witecka.
The two served the rest of their time in the military, lost contact and went on with their lives, until they both ended up at the VA in Walla Walla and Witecka asked for a smoke.
"We started talking about the service and all that and his, he was a marine I said where'd you serve at, and he said Nam. When he said Hill 10 I remembered it and that's when I saved his life," said Teager.
Those are the stories that make today even more meaningful for thousands of vets. Around the country, ceremonies like these honored the hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women who've been imprisoned and the one's still missing.
Friday's ceremony also honored the man who's statue the Walla Walla VA Center is named after, General Jonathan M. Wainright, who's statue watches over the VA grounds there. Appropriately, that statue was sculpted, by a fellow prisoner of war.