Friday ceremony in Atwater will honors prisoners of war, those missing in action

In front of the flagpole at the Castle Air Museum grounds, a somber ceremony Friday will pay tribute to American servicemen imprisoned during combat or those who never returned from battle.

The Castle Air Museum’s POW/MIA Ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. at the complex at 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater, according to Karen Kelleher, the museum’s volunteer coordinator.

Kelleher said there probably will be three to four servicemen who were prisoners of war on hand for Friday’s ceremony but that it’s difficult to estimate how many will show up. Most of the POWs are from World War II but a few are from the Vietnam War era.

About 100 people, many from veterans’ organizations, will attend the ceremony. The Mitchell Senior Elementary School band is due to play the national anthem. A small reception will follow the ceremony.

Kelleher said the POW/MIA Ceremony is part of an annual nationwide program drawing attention to the plight of many servicemen and women who were prisoners of war and those listed as missing in action.

About two dozen letters were sent to former prisoners of war living in this area, Kelleher said, but the number of these individuals has declined in recent years.