Five former Prisoners of War (POWs) will be honored during ceremonies on Friday, Sept. 20, at noon at the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial (PVVM) at Spruce Street and Columbus Blvd.
The PVVM Fund Board is partnering with the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center for the ceremony, which will feature participation of former U.S. Army Undersecretary and Congressman Patrick J. Murphy, and Ralph Galati, a well- known local Vietnam POW. This event will replace the traditional lunch for POWs at the Medical Center.
The ceremony includes an explanation of the “missing man” POW/MIA table by Galati and a presentation of POW/MIA “challenge coins” to each POW in attendance. Galati spent 14 months in the “Hanoi Hilton” after his Air Force jet was shot down over North Vietnam.
In addition, each of the 10 still missing servicemen from Vietnam will be honored in a special rifle ceremony.
Other former POWs expected to attend are: William Fili, U.S. Army Air Corps, captured in Italy; Leon Goldberg, USA 106th Infantry Division, captured in Germany; Stephan Hopkins, USA 2nd Division tank battalion, captured in Korea, and Wade Jeffries, USMC, captured at the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of prisoners of war and missing in action (MIA) has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The small table, which is set in white for one of the “missing”, is decorated by special symbols to help recall the sacrifice of POW/MIA.
The ceremony is being held near the proposed site of the National POW/MIA Monument to those from the Vietnam War. The PVVM Fund is still raising funds for the Monument, which is expected to be dedicated this fall at the Memorial. Donations are being accepted at pvvm.org or by sending a check to PVVMF, P.O. Box 29425, Philadelphia, PA 19125.
For more information, visit pvvm.org
or call 257-973-0600.