POW/MIA Council recognizes thousands still missing

By Nick Miller

The Scott POW/MIA Council held its 27th annual recognition ceremony Saturday morning, honoring those that had been captured during service or are still missing.

According to Geof Bambic of the POW/MIA Council, 82,232 Americans are still listed as Missing in Action as of September 14, 2018. Bambec went on to thank the assembled veterans, including some POW’s and the families of POW’s that were present.

“You sirs are true examples for our armed forces. Every American ones their freedom to all of you, and for that we would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Bambic said to the small assembled group of former prisoners of war.

Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti served as the guest speaker and began by saying what an honor it was for to be present at the event. 

“On behalf of Governor Bruce Rauner and myself, we made it a priority to be here today for this ceremony,” Sanguinetti said. “From the shores of Normandy, to the jungles of Vietnam. From the mountains of Korea to the Persian Gulf, tens of thousands of American soldiers have experienced capture or disappearance. Tremendous efforts have been made, dedicated to finding our lost brothers and sisters. Over decades there have been successes, but I think this morning we recognize that this fight, is not even close to being over,” 

Sanguinetti said that while its important to remember and focus on returning all 82,232 missing Americans, she wanted to highlight another number. 

“Here is another number I want you all to remember. Four thousand, one hundred and seventy seven. This is the number of Illinoisians that remain unaccounted for since World War II. Behind each of these figures are countless stories of stories left patiently waiting for the return of their loved ones,” Sanguinetti said.

Bambec explained how the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) works to locate and identify remains so missing soldiers can be confirmed as found and returned home. 

Sanguinetti said DNA testing has assisted greatly in identifying the remains of those who had been previously lost. Bambec echoed that statement, revealing how many formerly missing soldiers had been found since last year’s ceremony.

“Since last year’s ceremony, the DPAA has discovered, identified, and returned 181 of America’s finest,” Bambec said. “Of those identified, 138 were from World War II, 25 were from the Korean War, and eight were from the Vietnam War,” Bambec said.

Sanguinetti said that her family’s history reminds her constantly why it is important to fight for freedom and remember and honor those who have fallen or been lost doing so on your behalf.

“This all makes me reflect and think about my family. As a Latina, my family is comprised of immigrants and refugees. My mother was a refugee from Fidel Castro’s Cuba. My mother never failed to tell me each and every day how much freedom means. She told me how Fidel Castro was very charming and at the beginning he came on the island and said ‘You can trust me and give me your ability to defend yourselves’ and they did that. But then next came liberties and properties, because freedom isn’t free,” said Sanguinetti.

The O’Fallon Township High School Junior Air Force ROTC posted the colors and performed the POW/MIA table ceremony, where a table for one is set with many symbolic items.

A 21-gun salute was conducted by the Polish American War Veterans based out of Caseyville, Illinois.

The annual event was hosted and held at VFW Post #805. Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to stay for a complementary barbecue lunch.

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti Dave Tiedemann

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti makes a stop at Shiloh farm

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti Dave Tiedemann

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti talks with farmer Dave Tiedemann at his Shiloh family farm.

SHILOH – During a trip of Southern Illinois, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti stopped at a Shiloh farm to meet with local Farm Bureau members and discuss agriculture issues.

Sanguinetti visited Tiedemann Farm, owned by Shiloh Valley Township Supervisor and County Board Member Dave Tiedemann. She said it’s been a priority of her’s to visit each county in Illinois and listen to the local issues that need to be addressed.

“When [Governor Bruce Rauner] and I were campaigning, we heard from a lot of folks that people south of I-80 feel forgotten, so I make it a priority to tour around and listen to local issues. I’ve been thorough all 102 counties already,” said Sanguinetti.

During her stop the Lt. Governor touched on a variety of issues impacting Illinois including efforts to eliminate her office.

“I know of the efforts as of late, I headed our task force on consolidation and unfunded mandates on the local level, so I am for consolidation. Not only am I for it at the very local levels but all the way to the very top, and that includes my position. If you took the oath and you’re there for all the right reasons, then you have to take a look at all of the positions if its for the good of the people,” said Sanguinetti.

Since taking office, Sanguinetti has closed two of an initial four offices held by the Lt. Governor and considerably reduced staff. Sanguinetti said government consolidation is not an easy task and that consolidating school districts, specifically, can really be tricky.

“School districts are tough, because that goes to the notion of identity. A lot of school districts feel that if they consolidate, they lose that. But as an example, Arthur did a wonderful job. I believe its Unit School District 305. They did a wonderful job in combining their efforts and consolidating. And now when I go to their school district and when I talk to their kids, they say they are just a bigger family now and have access to so many more classes. The identity is still the same. But its a tough conversation to have at every level,” she said.

This is the second day of Sanguinetti’s trip to the Metro East. Tuesday Sanguinetti was at Scott Air Force Base meeting with the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee, which she chairs. She was provided a tour and learned from Scott leadership how her office can assist and be helpful in the base’s efforts.

“A lot of people don’t know, but the Lt. Governor is in charge of making sure our installations stay open, our military assets, rural affairs, and the rivers. Doing all of this work, I make it a priority to visit our military installations,” she said.

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti Farm Bureau

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti with local Farm Bureau members

“It’s all about readiness and they’re doing a lot at Scott to prepare. They’re upgrading their cyber wing at Scott since that is the new area for threats to come at us.”

When discussing Scott Air Force Base, Sanguinetti did touch on the state’s efforts to convince the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency that their decision to place the NGA West facility in North St. Louis was a mistake.

“Its no secret we were disappointed with their determination. But I’m hopeful because they have a period of time where they get to review and we have an opportunity to weigh in as a community and talk about why they respectfully made the wrong decision. If you take a look at the report, there were some very crucial errors. I’m hopeful they make the right decision, which is to come here with us at Scott Air Force Base,” Sanguinetti said.

Sanguinetti was completing her trip to the Metro East with a meeting with the Belleville Chamber of Commerce.