By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Northborough – On the third Sunday of September, a special ceremony is held aboard the battleship USS Massachusetts in Battleship Cove, Fall River, to honor those members of the military who are still considered prisoners of war or missing in action (POW/MIA).? The event is sponsored by the American Legion's POW/MIA committee.
At this year's POW/MIA Day held Sunday, Sept. 16 the color guard from the American Legion Vincent F. Picard Post 234 in Northborough had the honor of “presenting the colors” at the beginning of the ceremony. The event is sponsored by the American Legion's POW/MIA committee. (A color guard follows specific, ceremonial protocols when presenting the American and other relevant flags at the start of an event. It is usually accompanied by the singing of the national anthem. It is considered a significant honor because the guard is in fact, presenting and “protecting” the flag at the event.)
Ed Bombard was one of the five members in the Post 234 color guard.
“We have participated in this for the last four years but this was the first time we were chosen to present colors,” he said. “It was a very nice honor.
As part of the ceremony, those gathered are asked to line up on the ship and hold a pink carnation. As the names of the POW/MIAs are read out loud, the chief petty officer rings a bell and then participants throw the carnations down into the water, one by one.
“It was very moving,” Bombard said. “The reading of the names went on for about 45 minutes or so.”
Joining Bombard on the color guard were Larry Shafer, Larry Beatty, Rick Nieber, and Elizabeth Morin.
Morin served in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army and is currently the chaplain for the Legion's Women's Auxiliary Unit 234. Beatty served in the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers and is a senior vice commander and acting commander for Post 234. Nieber served in the U.S. Navy and is the Adjutant for the Post. Bombard served in the U.S. Navy and is the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Post. Shafer served in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army and is the Post's chaplain.
Although there are currently no POW/MIAs from Northborough , there are still thousands of American men and women unaccounted for since the end of the Cold War, according to a 2005 report from the Congressional Research Service.