A new site at the Salina-Saline County War Memorial will be unveiled and dedicated to prisoners of war (POWs) and Major Dennis Pugh, missing in action (MIA), at a Memorial Dayceremony in Sunset Park, 700 Sunset Drive.
The project was spearheaded by Jason McIntire, Commander of The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 62 and fellow Squadron members Kirk Cibolsk (Vice Commander) and Adam Hummel (Treasure). McIntire came up with the idea last year after wondering how manySalina/Saline county residents became POW/MIAs in the wars.
140,000 American service members were captured and served time as prisoners of war according to the Veterans Affairs, and more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from WWII,the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the more than 81,500 missing, 75% of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e. ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).
The following 11 individuals were POWs from Saline County and will be honored with inscribed paving bricks at the new site:
- Donald A. Achenbach, WWII/AF BS452 BG
- James Cole, WWII/Air Force
- Harold Fulton, WWII/Army AF 15AF
- Wilbur D. Gott, WWII/Army 28INF
- Robert H. Maxey, Korea, Vietnam/Army Co G 32 Regt 7 Div
- Thomas A. McGinness, WWII/Army
- Vernon K. Rawlings, WWII/8AF 92BG
- Kenneth Schoshke, WWII/Army 34INF
- Charlie A. Stanley, WWII/Army AF B24 Bomber Pilot
- Ernest V. Swanson, WWII/Army AF ETO 44BG
- Lewis J. Wehr, WWII/Army 31INF
Major Dennis Gerard Pugh, Vietnam, 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th U.S. Air Force, was the only individual from Saline County MIA, and will be honored with a monument.
To raise funds for the project, which cost over 10k, McIntire and committee members held fundraisers.
McIntire said, “To myself it is very important to not only learn history, but also to remember those who have fought and died to give people the freedom we have today. The POW/MIA monument we are building, thanks those veterans from Salina/Saline county and to make sure they arenever forgotten.”
Last month Mayor Mike Hoppock issued a proclamation read by McIntire recognizing March 19 as Major Dennis Pugh Remembrance Day.
The Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 am in the park. Additional details will be provided in the coming weeks.
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