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Bucks marks National POW/MIA Day with dedication


Alan Sigafoos still gets emotional when talking about that April day in 1971 when his parents phoned to say that his older brother, Air Force Capt. Walter H. Sigafoos III was missing in action (MIA) in the Vietnam War.

More than 48 years later, Walter is still listed as not accounted for.

They say time heals all wounds, but for Alan,that’s not the case

“It gets worse for me every year,” he said, the thought brought the sting of tears to his eyes. “I don’t have a brother. I don’t have somebody I can talk to like brothers do. We shouldn’t be separated.”

Alan says he can never forget the contributions his brother and others who never returned made to their country.

On Friday morning, Sept. 20, Bucks County marked National POW/MIA Recognition Day by adding to its existing Chair of Honor display in the Justice Center lobby. A display case containing the POW /MIA bracelets for eight men who went missing in the Vietnam War – three of them still missing; five of them now accounted for – will be dedicated as a reminder of the ongoing “You Are Not Forgotten” message of this day.

“Today, we are here to recognize and make sure that those who were missing in action, those who were POWs will not be forgotten,” said County Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery, whose daughter, Grace, is a second-year student at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. “We will remember them and continue to honor their service and dedication.”

Every third Friday of September is POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day of remembrance and hope for the safe return of American Prisoners of War, and those still Missing in Action. The first official commemoration of POW/MIAs was on July 18, 1979 and was the result of resolutions passed in Congress. The first national ceremony was held on that date.

Over the next few years, the commemoration was held on varying dates of the year. But, finally, in 1986, the National League of Families proposed the third Friday in September as a day to recognize and remember POW/MIAs. This date was selected since it was a date not associated with any particular war, or in conjunction with any organizations’ annual meetings or national conventions.

In Doylestown, Col. Mark B. Sherkey spoke of sacrifice and courage.

Col. Sherkey is inspector general for the State of New Jersey and a resident of Doylestown. He is served in the military for over 24 years, including three tours with 101st Airborne Division, a tour with 25th Second Infantry (Korea) and a tour with 25th Infantry (Hawaii), four combat development missions spanning Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Those in the military are performing a great public service. Those who were POWs and MIAs have given their lives and today we stand in the midst of heroes — those here in body and those who live on in spirit,” he said.