This Friday’s Bartholomew County Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day ceremony may seem similar to the annual Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day ceremonies.

The difference, however, is likely to be in the thoughts and emotions of people attending who may not know — and never know — what happened to a loved one that was declared missing in action.

In several cases, family members unable to achieve closure will refuse to accept a loved one is dead, even if that person has been missing for decades, said event coordinator Bob Miller, a Vietnam veteran and native of Cleveland who moved to Columbus nine years ago.

“I cannot imagine the moment my government couldn’t tell me if my brother or sister was alive or dead,” said William “Buzz” Weberding of Batesville, Veteran of Foreign Wars state commander and keynote speaker. “And I cannot imagine my grief if that missing person was my son or daughter.”

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This year’s POW/MIA recognition ceremony will get underway at 6:30 p.m. at the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, on the southwest portion of the Bartholomew County Courthouse grounds.

During last year’s event, the names of 45 local individuals who were either prisoners of war that remain unaccounted for — or declared missing in action — were read.

But Miller said that’s not an accurate number.

“It’s very difficult to determine,” he said. “They keep track of those unaccounted for, but as far as prisoners of war who came home, the records are not quite as good.”

Miller said a more up-to-date estimate, based on his recent research, is 54 names — 40 of which are named on bricks at the POW/MIA plaza, six others mentioned during a Memorial Day program and the names of eight individuals that he has uncovered.

All 54 of those names will be read during Friday’s program.

Miller said he will continue working with county historian Harry McCawley, the recently created Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and others to identify missing service members from past military conflicts.

Through the agency’s efforts, the remains of one Hoosier, Robert L. McIntosh, were identified and returned to his family in Tipton last month — 72 years after the 21-year-old Army pilot was reported missing in action in Italy.

“’You are not forgotten’ is not a slogan. It’s a mission,” Miller said.

Besides Weberding, others returning from last year’s observance include master of ceremonies Zack Ellison, vocalist Harvey Leggett and the Southern Indiana Pipes and Drums.

A 21-gun salute by the Bartholomew County Veterans Honor Guard will close out the event.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Cal Brand meeting room on the first floor of Columbus City Hall.

Unaccounted U.S. military personnel

Unaccounted U.S. military personnel

World War II (1941-1945): 73,126

Korean War (1950-1953): 7,802

Vietnam War (1955-1975): 1,618

Cold War (1947-1991): 126

Iraq and other recent conflicts (1991-present): 6

Total: 82,678

Source: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

If you go

What: Bartholomew County POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony, supported by VFW Post 1987, American Legion Post 24 and AMVETS Post 509

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans

Rain location: Cal Brand meeting room at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

Bartholomew County POW-MIA individuals

The names of these service members will be read during Friday’s POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony in Columbus, with the time after each name indicating the length of time as a prisoner of war.


Kenneth L. Allison, 2 months

Ralph Blair, 27 months

Harry Boegaholz Jr., 16 months

Virgil E. Brown, 7 months

J. Thomas Bunch, 19 months

John E. Clements, 8 months

Melvin Collis, 15 months

Eunice J. Conrad, 8 months

Lee D. Crabtree, 21 months

Arthur L. Fleetwood, 9 months

James L. Gordon, 5 months

Robert H. Green, 20 months

John C. Guthrie, 8 months

James A. Hall, 15 months

John E. Hamilton, 6 months

Wayne D. Hickman, 4 months

Robert E. Hogan, 12 months

Wilbur L. Horn, 5 months

Floyd E. Huntsman, 5 months

Luther D. Johnson, 7 months

W. Deryl Johnson, 8 months

Cecil Key, 18 months

Basil R. King, 5 months

Donald Klipsch, 28 months

Charles H. Leslie, 11 months

Ralph Lynn, 4 months

William Hurley Miller, 7 months

John Molzer, 5 months

Laverne Jack Moore, 5 months

Walter H. Oyer, 10 months

Marshall E. Patterson, 26 months

Ray W. Patterson, 40 months

Gustav Potthoff, 42 months

Lawrence C. Powell, 5 months

Richard Regan, POW-Killed in action

Eugene Rogers, 46 months

Frank Sachleben, POW-Killed in action

Bill Schonfeld, 11 months

Raymond Shown, 4 months

Sherman Skaggs, 27 months

Charles J. Steenbarger, 27 months

H. Robert Swartwood, 21 months

Richard Thayer, 12 months

Morris H. Thomas, 14 months

Jack Trowbridge, 20 months

George Wall, 16 months

Roy Weibel, 37 months

William J. Weisner, 9 months


Forrest Burns, Killed in Action

Robert Hilycord, 16 months

Robert Langwell, MIA-Remains Recovered

Robert E. Miller, died in captivity

Virgil Phillips, MIA-Remains Recovered


Charles Dennis Chomel, MIA-Remains Not Recovered.

Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.