By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Don Kennedy Jr. wears a metal band on his right wrist engraved with the name of a hometown friend who went missing in action during the Vietnam War.
First Lt. Robert S. Bradshaw III's aircraft, a F-4B from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, "failed to return from a mission near Quang Tri," on Feb. 12, 1970, according to information on www.virtualwall.org. The Virtual Wall is a Web site for memorials of those listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Kennedy, also a Vietnam veteran who sustained injuries during the war, attended school and church with Bradshaw in Lufkin.
Kennedy and other area veterans gathered in front of Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Friday to remember their comrades who were prisoners of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA). POW/MIA Day is the third Friday of every September and Friday was the 30th anniversary of its commemoration.
The third Friday of September was picked because it was unconnected to a specific war or cause, said Jon Burrows, Bell County judge and former airman.
"It was meant to be a day wholly its own," he said. "But just last week our national reflected on the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks."
It was appropriate that POW/MIA Day came just after Sept.. 11, he added.
"Throughout our nation's history, it has always fallen to the men and women of the Armed Forces to respond to aggressors and adversaries," he said, quoting a speech by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on 2007's POW/MIA Day. "To endure arduous and Spartan conditions; to risk life and limb on the battlefield; to make the sacrifices that are, in the final analysis, both our nation's tragedy and our glory."
There were about 126,000 POWs in World War II and about 30,000 MIA, Burrows said. There were about 8,000 POWs and 5,000 MIA in the Korean War, and about 770 POWs and 1,740 MIA in the Vietnam War. Of those missing, 113 are from Texas, he added.
It's important that prisoners of war, those missing in action and all veterans be honored and remembered, Kennedy said. He lost two friends and a cousin in the Vietnam War.
Kennedy is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, whose members volunteer on post so today's veterans know they are not alone. Once a week he and others provide drinks and snacks for soldiers preparing to deploy at a soldier readiness processing site at Fort Hood.
"Never again will one generation of veterans forget about another one," he said Friday.
For more information about the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter, contact Kennedy at (254) 947-0050.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547.
Armed Forces E9 Association and Armed Forces E9 Association, Lone Star Chapter
Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 1876
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 4008, Belton; Post 9192, Killeen; Post 1820, Temple; Post 3892, auxiliary and motorcycle group, Harker Heights; Post 3393 and auxiliary, Kempner; Post 10377 and auxiliary, Belton; Post 8577 and auxiliary, Copperas Cove; Post 9191, Killeen; Post 8230, Gatesville; and District 14
Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 29 and auxiliary
La Societe Des 40 Hommes Et 8 Chevaux (Forty and Eight), Voiture 1031
Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 222
Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1000
The Retired Enlisted Association, Chapter 88 and auxiliary
Special Forces Association, Chapter LXXVII (77)
American Legion, District 11
For information on these organizations, go to