Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

POW/MIA Recognition Day

Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

POW/MIA Recognition Day

Article excerpt

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, D.C., Friday, September 18, 2009

Good morning. I too would like to thank you all for coming: veterans' groups, MIA/POW organizations, leaders of the Department of Defense, and distinguished guests.

We pause today to remember, honor, and show solidarity with our troops who have been captured or gone missing in America's wars--and to affirm that we will never forget our duty to bring them home.

The return of the remains of Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher, shot down in Iraq in the early hours of the Gulf War 18 years ago, closes a prolonged and terrible period for his family. It is a reminder of the burdens borne by tens of thousands of military families down the years.

No nation in history has gone to such care, expense, or effort to locate its fallen. U.S. government dive-and-salvage teams, forensic scientists, and investigators scour the globe to seek a full accounting. Here are some of the most recent results of their work: Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Earl Hopper, who died in 1968; Army Private David Woodruff, captured in 1951 in Korea; and Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant Jimmie Doyle, who died in 1944--all were returned to their families, this year, and buried with full military honors.

This work continues. We do it mindful of what we owe POW/MIAs and their loved ones. And we do it in affirmation of our strongest belief as a people: that every life is precious. …

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