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Ashcroft delivers keynote address at National POW-MIA Recognition Day Ceremony


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft delivered the keynote address Friday afternoon during the National POW-MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the St. Louis Soldiers Memorial Military Museum.

“Each of us owes the highest respect to our soldiers by honoring their courage and commitment, their service and sacrifice,” Ashcroft said. “We must all continue to honor those who cannot be with us today so their lives will never be forgotten.”

Event highlights included the presentation of a replica model of an A4 Skyhawk flown by Marine Lt. Bernie Plassmeyer, who has been missing in action over Vietnam since Sept. 11, 1970, to the Plassmeyer family. Additionally, a proclamation was presented to Ashcroft declaring Missouri’s designation as the first POW-MIA State, providing for state locations to fly the POW-MIA flag alongside the American and state flags.

The event’s Master of Ceremonies was Kathy Lawton Brown, a radio host on 107.3 FM in St. Louis, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and one of the first female members of its “Singing Sergeants.”

“As an Air Force veteran, serving during the Vietnam era, I am deeply honored and humbled to be part of this historic event,” Brown said. “When the POW-MIA Museum at Jefferson Barracks first opened, I was privileged to meet some of the former POWs from Stalag 17-B and their families.  It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  Great credit goes to Museum Director, Paul Dillon, and the Board for their extraordinary dedication to preserving the history of our POWs and for keeping our MIAs vital in our minds and hearts.”

Additional speakers included Col. Grace Link, executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission. She currently serves in the Air Force Reserves as the Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VII.

Col. Brian Pearl, director of the Europe Mediterranean Region at the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency, traveled from Washington, D.C., to participate in this event. His agency works hard to keep the families and friends of those missing in action up to date with the most complete information on their missing loved ones.

“It is an honor to be here as we recognize our fellow Missourians who were held prisoners of war or who never returned from combat. I cannot express how much it means to me to participate in recognizing Missouri as the first POW-MIA State,” Ashcroft said.