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Nellis AFB Honors MIA-POW's | News

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Nellis AFB Honors MIA-POW's

NELLIS AFB, Nev. -- Thousands of American families still don't know the whereabouts of their missing military family members. Some are believed to be in enemy prisons, for others, their fate is unknown.

On Friday, U.S. military bases around world honored those men and women who are listed as an MIA or POW.

"In life or death, we must leave no one behind," said Brigadier General David Thompson, USAF Warfare Center as the ceremony of recognition got underway at Nellis Air Force Base.

Some of the men who attended the ceremony are lucky to be alive.

"I got shot down in the attack on Marcus Islands," said CPO Jack Leaming, POW in Japan 1942 - 1945.

"I fought in combat for 11 months, I got wounded and captured at the Battle of the Bulge outside Belgium, I did six months in a German prison camp and I came out in 1945," said PFC Matthew Bates, POW in Germany 1944 - 1945.

Now retired, soldier Matthew Bates was only 27 years old when he was captured. He was interrogated and forced to eat out of his army helmet. Retired Sergeant Eugene Ramos spent two years in a Korean prison and was freed at age 20.

"They tired to brainwash us, they taught us about communism, and how bad our country was to us," said Sgt. Eugene Ramos, POW in Korea 1951 - 1953.

These men made it home but many never did and their families are left with questions.

"These families experience a unique heartache that does not dim, that does not begin to heal, because they do not know," said Thompson.

That's why the military chooses to honor those captured and still missing every September 17th.

"This ceremony shows the American people, and the government, they appreciate what we did for them," said Ramos.

More than 80,000 Americans are still missing in action from wars in the twentieth century. That includes 17 men from Nevada.