By Dan Scanlan
Published on September 14, 2023 at 12:47 pm
Jacksonville will remember missing military members Friday and Saturday at events marking National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
An open house is scheduled Friday at Jacksonville’s National POW/MIA Memorial at Cecil Airport on the city’s Westside. Speakers on Saturday will include Meghan Wagner, daughter of Navy Capt. Scott Speicher, a Cecil-based aviator who became the first American combat casualty of the Iraq War.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to remember and honor missing and captive military personnel, their families and their communities.
Jacksonville’s National POW/MIA Memorial is centered around the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field’s Chapel of the High Speed Pass at 6112 POW-MIA Memorial Parkway. The memorial already had a Hero’s Walk of Honor, a starburst metal display of aircraft and a granite base seal of the former Master Jet Base. It now has four concrete pads for restored Navy aircraft. The walkways between them represent a miniature replica of the base’s runways,
Events will include an open house at 5 p.m. Friday and a candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. A ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday will feature retired Navy Capt. Dale Raebel, a former Vietnam War POW as well as Meghan Wagner.
Wagner will honor her father, who was listed as MIA then as killed in action when the U.S. Navy reported in 2009 that his remains had been found in Iraq.
“I will be talking about remembering my father,” Wagner said in an email. “But not only him, but many other families or military service members that were prisoners of war or missing in action, and that they are not forgotten, and that we are there to support them.”
The Vietnam War traveling memorial wall is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
A Remembrance Day motorcycle ride will begin at noon Saturday at Seven Bridges off Southside Boulevard, ending at the memorial.