Annual 24-Hour Run Honors POWs/MIAs

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara
  • Headquarters Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center sponsored the 5th annual Prisoner of War/Missing in Action 24-hour Vigil Run Sept. 20-21 at Kirtland AFB, N.M. , in honor of all current and former POWs and Americans still listed as missing in action.

The run began at Kirtland's Hardin Field after opening ceremonies featuring former POW retired U.S. Air Force Col. Robert M. Hudson as the guest speaker. Colonel Hudson was a B-52D co-pilot that was shot down with his aircrew near Hanoi on Dec. 26, 1972 during Linebacker II operations. Then 2nd Lt. Hudson was held captive for 93 days. He continued his service to the U.S. Air Force until 1998 when he retired from active duty.

After the opening ceremony, the AFOTEC Vice Commander Col. Matthew Bartlett lead the inaugural lap around Hardin Field carrying the POW/MIA flag where he handed the flag off to the next runner. A lead participant kept the POW/MIA flag in motion over the next 24 hours. Participants signed up for 15-minute increments to ensure the entire run time was covered with more than 150 military and civilian participating in the event.

The event culminated Sept. 21 when the AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant and the AFOTEC Vice Commander Col. Matthew Bartlett lead a final formation of runners carrying the POW/MIA flag from Kirtland's Hardin Field approximately 1.5 miles to the New Mexico Veterans Memorial off base where a special POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony was held for the Kirtland and local Albuquerque community.

"This was a remembrance event," said Colonel Bartlett. "We need people to remember the sacrifices our own folks have put down. The goal of this event was to get a lot of people to participate and show respect and admiration for the POWs and MIAs who sacrificed so much over so many different conflicts and wars throughout the years."

All proceeds from the event's T-shirt sale and participant donations went to the New Mexico Veterans Memorial.