Friday’s second editorial:
Forty-seven years ago, while returning from a combat mission in southern Laos, the crew of the AC-47D aircraft nicknamed “Spooky” sent out a mayday signal. Contact was never re-established, and despite two days of searching, neither the plane nor the remains of the six men aboard -- including Col. Derrell Jeffords of Florence -- were found.
Last year, after years of patient and painstaking investigation and excavations by the Defense Department, the remains of all six were at last discovered and identified. In July, Jeffords and the rest of the crew were buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
The six were among the more than 1,600 service members still missing from the Vietnam War, a total that pales in comparison to the nearly 8,000 unaccounted for from the Korean War and the more than 73,000 missing from World War II. Six are missing from the war in Iraq. The dedicated staff of the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office keeps their memory alive and continues to work tirelessly to bring these brave men and women home.
Today we mark the nation’s annual POW/MIA Recognition Day, when we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of our armed forces and the human cost that has purchased our continued freedom. The local branch of Rolling Thunder will hold a candlelight vigil tonight to salute these heroic Americans. It takes place at 7 p.m. at Warbird Park, at Farrow Parkway and U.S. 17 Business. Together, we remember both those who remain missing and those who persevered through privation and adversity as prisoners of war. We can never repay the debt. Thank you.