American Legion Post 23 honors the fallen and missing

Published 3:54 pm Monday, September 18, 2023

By Jake Moore, Bowling Green Daily News

While not present, the fallen and unaccounted for are forever remembered inside of the walls of American Legion Post 23.

The legion, with help from the Greenwood High School JROTC Cadets, took time Friday to honor fellow military members who never returned home as part of POW/MIA Recognition Day.

Don Butler, chairman of the Veterans and Military Support Council of Bowling Green-Warren County, said the day of remembrance offered put into perspective how much the captured and missing have given to the United States.

“Really it’s the message that the candle will always be lit,” he said. “They are not forgotten – it’s just that simple.”

Butler served two tours in Vietnam. He said all who serve are “in tune” with the thought that going missing or becoming a prisoner of war could happen to anyone.

The cadets carried out the presentation of colors and led a solemn “Missing Man Table” ceremony, taking turns to set a place for those that have not come home from war.

A white tablecloth was laid down first, a symbol of the missing’s pure intentions to serve their country. A red rose followed, in reference their loved ones who still hang on to hope that one day they will be found.

A candle was lit to show the upward reach of the POW/MIA spirit and a slice of lemon was added to stand in for their bitter pain.

The table’s only chair remained empty.

Myron Bohannon, blinking back tears, shared after the ceremony that he lost his good friend Floyd Talley in Vietnam.

“We grew up together, we fished together, we dated together. We did everything together,” Bohannon said. “This day means a whole lot to everybody.”

Smitty White, a friend of Bohannon, said he was also close with Talley.

“War is hell,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

Ever since it was established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the third Friday in September has been set aside to honor U.S. personnel who never never came back.

The U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency continues the search for the missing to this day, finally identifying one of Kentucky’s native sons earlier this year.

Mammoth Cave’s U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas Franklin “Frank” Brooks will return to his Edmonson County home to be buried in October.

Brooks died in 1942 as a Japanese POW in the Philippines and was finally accounted for in June thanks to analysis of his remains.

“Eighty-one years later,” Butler said. “Think about that! What a tribute to those who hang on for the recovery and a reminder that they’re not forgotten about.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 80,000 American service members are still unaccounted for.

“I wish we could find them all,” White said. “But that’s war for you.”