EDISON, NJ – Mayor Thomas Lankey and the Edison community held a POW/MIA Recognition Day on Sept. 18 at the Veteran’s Memorial behind the Municipal Building.
The mayor opened the program with a welcome to all the POW and MIA families and reflected on three stories about soldiers lost in wars or were prisoners of war, including the story of Edison resident, Ronald Michael Mayercik, a captain in the Air Force, who graduated from Edison High School in 1962. In 1965, Mayercik entered the Vietnam War as a jet pilot and on Nov. 24, 1967 was shot down.
While reflecting on these stories, Lankey reminded the attendees that currently there are 43 POWs and MIAs from New Jersey. Lankey stated, “For all the ones who remain missing, we must not forget and not rest, until they are all brought home.”
Other speakers that day echoed the mayor’s sentiments. In speaking about those soldiers who are still missing in action, Nancy Engkilterra, the state coordinator for the National League of POW/MIA Families, said, “America raised them, America sent them and America wants them back.”
Tom Engkilterra, regional coordinator for the National League of POW/MIA Families, said, "People always ask me 'Why is this issue still important?' and I say, because it's the right thing to do... families deserve an answer."
Tom Katchisin, vice-commander American Legion Post 324 and Master Sergeant (Ret.) John Welgos gave the history of the POW/MIA flag. “The flag is black and white representing the stark, harsh environment of the suffered by our POW’s/MIA’s in captivity. The profile of the prisoner shows his head bent in sorrowful prayer and he faces towards the right, towards America, with continuing faith that he will not be forgotten.”
Katchisin continued by explaining that the guard in the background watches the prisoner, but is separated from the prisoner with barbed wire, “just as the love of freedom separates us from those who deny freedom to others.”
“The POW/MIA flag stands directly under the America flag awaiting a day when it will be lowered for the last time, when the fullest, possible accounting is achieved and our men – alive or dead – come home.”
George ‘RED’ Ellis, a WWII veteran, spoke of his experience as a POW twice during the war and eventually escaped from Germany with his comrades.
A “Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony” was also presented. Musical tributes were performed by the Edison High School Chamber Choir, directed by Kenneth Brown, singing the National Anthem and “America” and Gillian Caruso, Monica Flores and Jacob Good singing “God Bless America”.
The ceremony ended with "Taps" played by Gavin Kasperski of the Edison High School Marching Band.