The Rifle Squad of the Hudson Falls American Legion Post 574 stands guard Sunday June 3 during the region’s annual POW-MIA memorial service — held this year at the American Legion Post in Lake George rather than at its traditional site atop Prospect Mountain.
The Lake George American Legion Post was filled to capacity Sunday June 3 as veterans from Warren and Washington counties gathered for their annual memorial service honoring U.S. soldiers missing in action and held as prisoners of war during all conflicts.
Normally held atop Prospect Mountain the POW/MIA ceremony was held in the Legion headquarters on state Rte. 9 due to forecasts of rain.
Color guards from various local and county organizations lined three sides of the legion hall, providing a formal spectacle for the dozens attending.
Gene Pierce of Warrensburg, who annually organizes the ceremony, noted that two area POWs attended the ceremony, rather than four in 2011.
These two were Harold Perkins, 89, of Clifton Park and Manuel Perez of Wilton. The duo laid a wreath of remembrance at the podium during the ceremony
Both were taken captive by German forces during World War II.
Perkins was taken prisoner in France and moved to Germany, and Perez was captured in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.
Guest Speaker Brigadier General Michael Swezey of the Army National Guard said that there are more soldiers classified as Missing in Action than many citizens might be aware of.
In the Viet Nam War alone, nearly 2,000 soldiers were shot down over the Ho Chi Min Trail, he said. Thousands of others met a similar fate in World War II and the Korean War.
He added that this week was significant, because in recent days, there was a new accord reached with the Vietnamese officials to account for those lost in conflict.
Pastor Ken Hedden said that many of the missing soldiers’ families, in the absence of closure over the fate of their loved ones, bore emotional scars for the rest of their lives.
“We pray for the families of those missing soldiers,” he said. “Lord, give them peace.”
Presiding over the ceremony was Carl Fosco, Commander of Warren County American Legion.
James Corriveau of Warrensburg sang the national Anthem with gusto. Matt Hayden of the Johnsburg High School Band played taps, and Johnsburg Band Director Jon DiLappa played an echo to Hayden’s phrases.
Veterans of the Hudson Falls Legion Post 574 raised the flag and fired their guns in salute of those departed.
Serving as color guards were such veterans groups as the area Marine Corps League, the Korean War veterans organization, the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Riders, both motorcycle squads consisting of veterans.
“The U.S. will never stop looking for those missing in action,” Hedden pledged as he concluded the ceremony.