The Prisoners of War and Missing In Action Association held its 17th annual daylong motorcycle rodeo Saturday to honor U.S. soldiers who are captive or missing in action, and to raise awareness and money that can help bring them home.
The POWMIA’s mission is to stand behind the people who stand for our country; past, present and future. They do what they can to aid the government in recovering fallen soldiers’ remains and bringing closure to families.
“My brother is still missing in a result of a F-4 incident. He volunteered for his second [Vietnam] tour,” said Ann Mills-Griffiths, who is the CEO of the National League of POWMIA and the sister of an MIA soldier.
Her brother disappeared in an F-4 fighter jet over North Vietnam in 1966, but as of today, efforts are still being made to find his remains.
“That may prove to bring answers. We don’t know. But all we really need to know is that are government made its very best effort,” Mills-Griffith said.
Organizers of Saturday’s motorcycle rodeo said this was the first year the event has been held in Idaho Falls.
“You know the turnout’s been great and we were welcomed with open arms here. It’s such an amazing opportunity to have a new audience. We try to add a lot of fun into a pretty serious endeavor, actually. We’re just not going to stop until our mission’s completed,” Jennifer Bowen, the POWMIA public relations manager.
The POWMIA — as Mayor Rebecca Casper explained in her remarks at the motorcycle rodeo — is an association that enjoys funerals because it is a celebration of service and of a solider finally being brought home.
“When we attended robert holten’s funeral, that brought us full circle in what we do and why we are here today working so hard. Having that opportunity to touch the casket — there’s emotions involved that really is hard to put into words,” said Dawn Williams, the POWMIA sales director.
The organization hopes to bring public awareness to the issue of bringing prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action home and all of the work that comes with it.
“We had an MIA that was returned in Rigby/Rexburg area, and that family did not know that we existed. They were very appreciative when we showed at the funeral to welcome their loved one home,” Bowen said.
During the tribute ceremonies, Allstate Insurance presented the association a $15,000 check for its volunteer work.
The money will go to the National League of POWMIA, the Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello, and any other awareness efforts in southeast Idaho.
To get more information on the local POWMIA, click here.