At the request of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed Friday, Sept. 20, as “POW/MIA Recognition Day,” calling on all South Dakotans to honor those men and women who fought for our freedoms.
South Dakota has 24 service personnel who were prisoners of war — 18 from World War II and six from the Korean War. South Dakota has 133 service personnel who are Missing In Action — 88 World War II Veterans, 38 Korean War Veterans and seven Vietnam Veterans. “The state of South Dakota continues to support efforts to account for every service member classified as Missing in Action,” said Audry Ricketts, public information officer, South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
“While we are grateful to all of those who have served our nation, this day is designated to remember and recognize the sacrifices endured by those members of the armed forces of the United States who were held as prisoners of war or remain missing in action,” said Greg Whitlock, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
Whitlock encourages all South Dakotans to set aside time Sept. 20 to honor the POW/MIA’s who fought to protect our freedoms and lost theirs, as well as remember those engaged in today’s struggle to guard our way of life for future generations.
“In their service to our country, former prisoners of war and those missing in action have sacrificed mightily to maintain the promise of liberty that we hold dear,” said Whitlock. “POW/MIA Day affords all of us a great opportunity to reaffirm our vow to never forget the courage of our nation’s staunchest defenders – our former POWs and MIAs. We owe them and their families our gratitude.”
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. At the end of the war, there were approximately 79,000 Americans unaccounted for. This number included those buried with honor as unknowns, officially buried at sea, lost at sea, and missing in action. Today, more than 72,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from WWII.
One of the latest cases of MIA remains being brought back to South Dakota was late October 2017, when Korean War Veteran Sgt. Philip James Iyotte was returned home to South Dakota.