Former Ambassador Addresses POW/MIA Recognition Day at WPNSTA Yorktown

Story Number: NNS130920-09Release Date: 9/20/2013 4:21:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Andrew Schneider, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- James R. Bullington, former U.S. Ambassador to Burundi, addressed more than 25 Sailors and Marines at Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown Sept. 20, as part of the installation's Prisoner Of War (POW)/Missing In Action (MIA) Recognition Day event.

The United States' National POW/MIA Day is traditionally held on the third Friday in September each year. The day of observance provides an opportunity for remembrance and reverence for former MIA service members and former POWs.

The day recognizes service members involved in every combat, but most commonly commemorates those associated with the Vietnam War.

Bullington spoke about some of his stories and experiences during the Battle of Hue, which was one of the longest battles in the Vietnam War.

"I'm glad I survived, it was a close call," said Bullington. "It is important that the Vietnam War is not forgotten. I think it's useful to share with the Sailors and Marines some of the events and lessons that need to be learned."

Bullington, a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State, served as Ambassador to Burundi and other diplomatic and consular positions in Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Chad, and Benin.

"Listening to the stories and actually getting the real insight on what Ambassador Bullington had been through," said Lt. Cmdr. Bobby Allen, a supply officer at WPNSTA Yorktown. "He actually painted the picture of what actually went on in the war."

Keeping with tradition the POW/MIA table was also displayed at the ceremony.

The table, normally found on the mess decks throughout Navy ships and installations, is a single dinner setting with a single rose and salt, along with a plate and silverware. The rose symbolizes family members' hope for the return of their loved one and salt represents the tears cried during their absence.

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