As Anthony Munden’s watch struck midnight on Friday, Sept. 20, he released a pair of runners from Parking Lot F on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus carrying two flags with great symbolic meaning. The first runner of course held the American flag. The other carried a flag with even greater significance on that day. Against the black background of the POW/MIA flag stands the silhouette of a man’s bust, a watch tower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. Embroidered across the image are the words “You Are Not Forgotten.”
This past Sept. 20 was POW/MIA Remembrance Day. That day is set aside to give thanks and remember those that were captured during service, went missing or are currently missing while serving, and those military members’ families. Munden, a fourth year Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) cadet and a member of the university’s Arnold Air Society, led the POW/MIA Run for Arnold Air Society for its third year.
Over the course of that Friday, teams of two took turns carrying the two flags around the university, switching out every 30 minutes. In total, about 48 pairs of individuals carried the flags for an entire 24 hours, racking up a total distance of at least 100 miles.
Amanda Burroughs, also a fourth year AFROTC cadet, volunteered in the early morning when Army ROTC was doing PT and ran with the flags. “Seeing Air Force Cadets hand off the flags to Army Cadets, and receive them back in turn an hour later was symbolic of how all of the branches work together active duty,” she said. “It was great to see that even as cadets we can work together to remember something as important as our POW/MIA.”
When asked what running in the event meant to him, sophomore AFROTC cadet Tyler Schulz said that, “being a part of the POW/MIA run was an awesome feeling and served as a humbling experience for myself and several cadets on campus. To me, it was a chance to show the community how much effort we as cadets were willing to put in 24 hours straight to show our respects to fallen and lost soldiers.”
Special thought was given to soldiers, marines, airmen, and seamen currently imprisoned or missing, such as Army Sergeant Bowe who has been in captivity in Afghanistan since 2009. It is through events such as the POW/MIA run which remind the everyday person of the service and sacrifices that military servicemen and women make for our country.
“The POW/MIA theme is very important for me,” Munden said. “I’ve had to recite the Airman’s Creed countless times since I’ve been in AFROTC, and the creed states ‘I will never leave an Airman behind.’ We say that, but there are people who were left behind. There are families that were never given closure when their child, sibling, or spouse went missing. Then looking at the POWs, the hell they went through while in captivity is unbelievable, and they deserve to be honored.”
When asked how the event went, Munden remarked, “after the run was completed, I felt pride in our squadron, wing, and school community for actually making it happen. I’d just like to say a special thanks to Army ROTC, the SVO, and Silver Wings for supporting the run. It wouldn’t have happened without their help.”