Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Let us not forget: a commentary by Col. Kershaw

Col. Michael Kershaw
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Sept. 21 is designated Missing in Action / Prisoner of War Day by the president of the United States. This remembrance is a nationwide symbol to the nearly 88,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen missing in wars past.
The remembrance was designated by presidential decree in order to focus the attention of the citizens of the Unites States on all of our nation’s warriors who have not made it home yet.
Through the signing of this decree, President Bush will declare the commemoration of nearly 78,000 service members missing from World War II, nearly 8,100 from the Korean War, close to 1,800 from Viet Nam, 125 from the various operations during the Cold War, one from Operations Desert Storm and finally four from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This event is observed on the third Friday of September, each year.
This year MIA/POW day is Sept. 21. It symbolizes – the Nation's concern and commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans who, having been prisoners of war or missing in action, still remain unaccounted for; and, the Nation's commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting for Americans who in the future may become prisoners of war, missing in action, or otherwise unaccounted for as a result of hostile action.
This day has special meaning to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry as it brings a first hand accounting to the 3,300 Soldiers deployed to Southwest Baghdad.
Somewhere out there two of our own remain. Despite the tireless efforts, resources, analysis and searching, Spc. Alex Jimenez Jr., 25, and Pvt. Byron Fouty, 19, are still missing. Their official status changed from Duty Status, Whereabouts Unknown to Missing/Captured July 1.

As we strive to find them, I ask all of the Commandos, to keep our missing comrades and their families in your prayers. This day of remembrance may not relieve the pain they feel, but I hope that it can extend our sympathy and support to them in this time of need that has gone on for so long.
The search for our two Commandos continues. We have resolved to find them and that mission remains the number one priority for this BCT. We continue to bring the full weight of our intelligence assets – signal, open source and human intelligence assets – to bear in the search for Jimenez and Fouty. Our patrols continue to search for any lead that will bring us closer or will connect the dots of other leads that will shed light on this mystery.
To date we have arrested over a dozen al Qaeda affiliates involved in either the planning or the execution of the May 12 attack. We continue to question these detainees and the residents of Qargouli Village, who until recently lived in the shadow of fear of the al Qaeda tyranny. The locals are coming forth in droves, identifying the terrorists, often at great peril to themselves and their families. They are beginning to cast out the enemy and side with us.
The attack along Route Malibu not only resulted in the capture of Jimenez and Fouty, but also left five other Soldiers from Company D, 4th Battalion 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT and an Iraqi Soldier killed in action. As we reflect on those missing, I ask that we also keep these Soldiers and their families in our prayers as well.
To take risks is a matter of honor. These Soldiers risked everything to accomplish their mission. We can do no less on this day than to remember them. As we pause to reflect on their sacrifice, we can reaffirm ourselves to our Soldiers Creed, our mission here and our teammates.
This day is a way to remember the heroism and bravery that each of these service members displayed. I ask that you reflect on this aspect as well.
Remember each of these service members, particularly those closest to us. Take time on Sept. 21 to reflect upon their memories. As the slogan imprinted on serene black MIA/POW flag states – you are not forgotten!

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