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.