Several prisoners of war and the families of those missing in action gathered at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on Saturday, in honor of National POW/MIA Day.
Vern Schmidt, commander of the Ex-Prisoners of War local chapter, said every person being honored gave the three S’s — service, sacrifice and survival.
Jack Schwartz, who is 103 years old, was honored as the oldest living prisoner of war. He was captured in Guam three days after Pearl Harbor and spent 1,367 days imprisoned by Japanese soldiers.
Captain Aaron Raidt, of the the Fresno Army Recruiting Company, spoke on stage to honor those who went missing in action. He said remains from World War II are still being identified by DNA in 2018, including Marine Private Alva Jackson, who was on the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His family was in the crowd, some of which arrived from Arizona and Oregon.
Paul Loeffler, who organizes honor flights in Fresno, imagined the courage POWs showed as they struggled to survive.
“When they were walking mile after mile after mile, maybe in the snow with nothing to eat, how did they know they were ever going to be free again?” He said. “How did they know they were going to survive the war? They really didn’t.”