Men Giving 'Ultimate Sacrifice' Honored at Annual Ceremony; Prisoners of War and Those Missing in Action Are Recognized

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Outside the All Saints Chapel at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, propeller-driven P-3 Orions thundered by en route to their latest mission Friday afternoon.

Inside the chapel's walls, Cmdr. Gerald Felder's words thundered as the Navy chaplain reminded military veterans and dress white-garbed sailors and officers why they were there.

It was the Navy base's annual POW/MIA Recognition Observance with about 100 people in attendance, remembering those military who were captured, incarcerated or killed by enemies past and present. Do not forget those who made "the ultimate sacrifice," he said as he stood next to a stark black-and-white POW/MIA flag.

"We thank our God for these brave young men and women who serve this nation, who are willing to lay down their lives," Felder said. "Lord, we honor those who are now missing and we honor those who took the ultimate responsibility and went forth to serve this country."

Nearby sat Mary Hoff, whose husband Michael Hoff was listed as missing in action in Vietnam in 1971. She saw the need for a symbol to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action and helped design the flag that flies now in their memory. After the ceremony, as she gathered with veterans and former POWs at a reception, Hoff said it was wonderful to feel the camaraderie among the sailors, veterans and families.

"It is wonderful every year to be able to come together and share, and I feel very lucky to come another year," said Hoff, of Orange Park. "I think about going on to the next world, and I can't wait to see [my husband] and tell him what we did. …

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