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POW/MIA honored at Minot AFB

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members of the base Honor Guard fold the U.S. flag in honor of servicemembers who have been captured as prisoners of war or are missing in action during a special retreat ceremony at Dock 7 Sept. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Joe Rivera)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members of the base Honor Guard fold the U.S. flag in honor of servicemembers who have been captured as prisoners of war or are missing in action during a special retreat ceremony at Dock 7 Sept. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Joe Rivera)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Minot Air Force Base honored POW and MIA servicemembers here during a luncheon and retreat ceremony Sept. 22. 

Airmen here also had the opportunity to hear the luncheon's speaker, a former POW, talk about his imprisonment during Operation Desert Storm. 

At the luncheon, speaker Col. Mike Roberts, 178th Fighter Wing vice commander, from Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio, spoke about why Airmen should never forget what POWs and MIAs sacrificed. 

"They not only survived, they did so with such honor and set the standard for all of us who followed in their footsteps," said Colonel Roberts. 

After the luncheon, Colonel Roberts spoke at the base theater to talk about his experiences as a POW. He retold the evening of January 19, 1991, when he was shot down during a bombing raid over Baghdad. He also told how he ejected from his F-16 and could see vehicles pulling over on a highway waiting for him. 

"I hit the ground, dropping off the chute and started running away from the highway. Then I see all these civilians with AK-47s waving and shooting and I said 'okay, you got me,'" said Colonel Roberts. 

While a POW, Colonel Roberts explained how he was beaten and so poorly fed, he lost 35 pounds. 

"They didn't treat us very well at all," said the colonel. "I was very fortunate, though. There were no lasting injuries." 

He was released March 5, 1991. Although it happened 15 years ago, Colonel Roberts feels he has an obligation to speak to Airmen about his experience. 

"I get to inform and perhaps give Airmen some tools they can use if they are ever put in that situation," said Colonel Roberts. 

During the retreat ceremony Colonel Roberts was honored again along with other North Dakota former POWs as the base Honor Guard presented and folded the American flag. 

First Lt. Andrea Nyce, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and master of ceremonies, said Airmen should never forget the pain and sacrifice American POWs and MIAs went through. 

"These airmen deserve the respect and honor of each person on base," she said.
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