Dedication: Highway 26 to become POW/MIA Memorial
On Friday, Sept. 18, 10 large POW/MIA Memorial Highway signs will be dedicated in public ceremonies in six cities — including Prineville and Madras — located along the new POW/MIA Memorial Highway across Oregon on U.S. Highway 26 between Seaside and Vale.
The Prineville ceremony will be at 2 p.m. at Ochoco Creek Park, at the park's Circle of Honor POW/MIA Memorial, near the wildland firefighters monument.
Master of Ceremonies will be Dick Tobiason, chairman of the Bend Heroes Foundation, a group that was key to the project. Others scheduled to speak are Crook County Judge Seth Crawford, Sen. Denis Linthicum, Rep. Vicki Bresse-Iverson and Don Weber. The Crook County High School Navy JROTC cadets will read the names of local POW/MIAs and the families of POW/MIAs, the legislators and key donors have the honor of unveiling the highway sign. A benediction, taps and a rifle salute by the local Band of Brothers is also scheduled.
There will also be a flyover by the Civil Air Patrol High Desert Squadron.
Friday is also National POW/MIA Recognition Day honoring POWs, MIAs and their families. The new POW/MIA Memorial Highway is the result of the nonprofit Bend Heroes Foundation request to the Oregon Legislature in 2019.
The purpose of the POW/MIA Memorial Highway is to honor Oregon's nearly 1,000 Prisoners of War (POWs) of whom almost 200 died in captivity, 135 civilians (later designated as veterans) who became POWs during World War II, and 1,000 (999 Veterans, 1 Civilian) Oregonians who still remain Missing in Action (MIA) or "Unaccounted-For" from World War I to the Vietnam War.
The memorial is also designed to educate the traveling public and let the families of POWs and MIAs know Oregon supports their hopes and prayers for the return of their loved one's remains.
Gov. Kate Brown's POW/MIA Recognition Day proclamation drafted by Bend Heroes Foundation will be read at the ceremonies with copies given to POW/MIA families.
Bend Heroes Foundation and its partners raised almost $20,000 to pay ODOT to fabricate and install the 10 signs.
Families of POWs and MIAs, state legislators, donors and the public are invited to these free of charge public ceremonies. They are invited to bring names and photos of POWS and MIAs.
The POW/MIA Memorial Highway is the eighth and last border-to-border veterans' highway initiated by Bend Heroes Foundation honoring nearly one-half million veterans from Oregon who served during five major wars: WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq Wars. Almost 6,000 veterans made the supreme sacrifice, 15,000 were wounded, more than 900 became prisoners of war, and 1,000 still remain missing in action. Thirty veterans connected with Oregon received the Medal of Honor.
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