Airmen in your community: POW shares his story, honoring those who gave their all

2013-10-07T00:00:00Z Airmen in your community: POW shares his story, honoring those who gave their allAirman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Arizona Daily Star

9/25/2013 — DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — A Prisoner Of War/Missing In Action remembrance ceremony was held here Sept. 20, 2013.

Approximately 200 Airmen, civilians and retirees were in attendance during the ceremony that featured a motorcycle formation, a POW/MIA Table and a World War II prisoner of war guest speaker.

The formation of about 50 volunteer motorcyclists kicked off the ceremony, lining the center aisle with their bikes decorated with American and POW/MIA flags.

A small, round table, set for one, was displayed center stage, reminding those in the room there are loved ones who could not be there. During the presentation of the table, an honor guard member pointed to each item as the meaning behind it was announced.

The special guest, John Swett, former U.S. Army corporal, spoke about his time as a prisoner of war.

Swett was assigned to the 106th Division, H Company, 423rd Regiment, 3rd Platoon when the regiment surrendered to opposing forces Dec. 19, 1944.

He described the conditions of the camp, including harsh weather and extreme lack of food.

"It was not yet the coldest part of the winter of 1944-45, subzero — coldest in 45 years, but for more than three days there was no sun, only drizzle, sleet, rain or snow, depending on the time of day and your elevation," Sleet said. "Our daily diet consisted of a cup of ersatz coffee in the morning, a piece of black bread with sometimes margarine and a ladle of weak soup for lunch and some kind of tea for supper. I weighed 180 pounds going into the camp. Three and a half months later, I was down to 105 pounds."

The camp was liberated by a contingent from General Patton's Third Army April 2, 1945.

The ceremony was held as part of POW/MIA Recognition Day, which occurs yearly on the third Friday of September.

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About this blog

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, known as “D-M” to our neighbors, is home to the 355th Fighter Wing, the premier air combat base for all Air Force A-10 C fighter aircraft training. Davis-Monthan is also home to other vital Department of Defense units including 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), 55th Electronic Combat Group, 563rd Rescue Group and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, nicknamed “The Boneyard.”

Davis-Monthan is located within the city limits of Tucson, Ariz., and has been an integral part of the Tucson community since its dedication in 1927. In fiscal year 2012, Davis-Monthan circulated approximately $1.1 billion ($1.6 billion including retirees) into the local community and created 4,687 jobs in Tucson. The more than 10,800 personnel, who are assigned and employed at Davis-Monthan, live, work and educate their children in the Tucson metropolitan area. Nearly 75 percent of our 7,537 military service members live off base.

D-M Airmen are proud to serve their country, deploying to nearly every corner of the globe. At any given time 500 or more are deployed in support of worldwide operations. D-M Airmen are also proud to call Tucson home. The valuable relationship with the Tucson community and Southern Arizona supporters helps us achieve our missions.

Check out D-M’s economic impact.

Watch our Mission video.

Read more on our website and our Facebook page.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail: 355WGPA@DM.AF.MIL

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