Bob Doherty, a former WWII POW, listens during Sunday's ceremony honoring POW and MIA soldiers who have not yet been accounted for. Records show that 40 such solders are missing from Massachusetts.
There are 40 Massachusetts soldiers who went to fight in the Vietnam War and are still unaccounted for.
For the small crowd who came out Sunday in Taunton to remember those who never came home, the afternoon’s chill was the furthest thing from their minds.
Members of the Taunton VFW, the Taunton Area Vietnam Veterans Association (TAVVA), Post 611 Taunton VFW, the Rudolph Desilva Korean War Veterans and the Taunton High School Junior ROTC color guard joined area officials and residents in remembering those from Massachusetts who fought for our country, but never returned.
According to TAVVA member Dennis Proulx, the remembrance.
day ceremony was founded in 1983 by then-mayor Richard Johnson, who proclaimed the last Sunday in March as POW/MIA Day in Taunton.
Sunday, a small crowd gathered around the Vietnam Memorial, which was one of the first built in the country to honor those who served in Vietnam.
“Our brave soldiers demonstrated courage and character,” Mayor Charles Crowley read in a proclamation. “Freedom is not free and soldiers were witness to that fact, and there are thousands of families still waiting in anguish.”
He said reminded those present that through rain, shine or cold, their comrades constantly keep vigil, waiting for the last soldier to be accounted for.
State Rep. James Fagan, D-Taunton, who attends the ceremony each year with his wife Christine, expressed thanks for the great turnout.
“Every year I think to myself that we as Americans are believers in God and country and we have a duty to honor the memories of those who remain POW/MIAs,” he told the gathering. “We know God’s will, will be done and each one will be brought home.”
Guest speaker Donald Cleary called the ceremony a tribute to the 1,800 American soldiers who remain unaccounted for.
Cleary said although 591 American POWS returned home through Operation Home Coming, more than 1,000 did not.
“Some say all the POW/MIA are deceased or were killed in action, but until we see tangible physical evidence they were killed, list them as MIA,” Cleary said.
Cleary reminded the gathering that Vietnam veterans weren’t always treated as heroes.
“We, like other vets, were dedicated and courageous,” he said. “We must never forget the sacrifices of all the military personnel who answered the call of Vietnam.”