USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) held a ceremony honoring prisoners of war (POW) and service members who are or were missing in action (MIA) Aug. 30.
The ceremony, coordinated by George Washington's heritage committee and religious ministries, highlighted the importance of remembering those who remain unaccounted for and sacrificed for their country as a POW.
"I truly believe our military is fully committed to 'leave no man behind by any means necessary'," said Capt. G.J. Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "It is extremely important that as a Navy and as a nation, we continue to honor and remember those who have never returned. The sacrifices have helped make our nation the best in the world."
Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on United States military installations and ships at sea. The observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families' POW/MIA Flag; the others are Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
"National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Sept. 21, but we chose today to take advantage of the opportunity to recognize their sacrifices and their efforts," said Fenton. "We have invested a great deal in resources to provide capabilities to recover personnel who are deemed a POW or MIA. That gives me great confidence as we carry out our mission."
During the ceremony, several speakers shared stories of POWs and MIAs to remind the ship of those who have been lost or captured and the hardships that were endured by those found.
"The most recognized group of POWs and MIAs in our recent history was the Vietnam war," said Fenton. "We are now two generations removed from Vietnam. Many people don't have a personal relationship to Vietnam; they don't know anybody that served in the Armed Forces and didn't watch the war unfold on television every night. They don't know the great sacrifices that those Americans have collectively made."
Remembering those who suffered during recent wars is important because modern wars become less relatable as time goes by, said Fenton.
"It's always important to have history lessons in our life to be reminded of our past because our past can become our future," said Cmdr. Daniel Mode, George Washington's command chaplain. "It is always important to remember that people before us gave the ultimate sacrifice and it reminds us of that reality."
There are more than 80,000 POWs and MIAs dating as World War II.
"By doing what we're doing, by being a presence all around the world, that allows POWs and MIAs to know that we're still around and still looking for them," said Mode. "They would be truly overwhelmed with emotion that people all over the nation still remember them today."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.