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POW/MIA Chair of Honor dedicated at Goodyear Ballpark

Post Date:03/01/2014 4:20 PM

The vinyl-covered seat, which is black and features the POW/MIA logo on the back rest, stands alone and is the lone seat sitting in the last row of Section 113 behind home plate.

In partnership with the Rolling Thunder program, Goodyear dedicated the POW/MIA Chair of Honor during its Opening Weekend festivities prior to the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians game. With the help of a special guest – Goodyear resident Doug Crowell, 84, who was a Prisoner of War for a little more than two weeks in July, 1953 during the Korean War when he was a corporal in the U.S. Army’s 5th Regimental Combat Team. The Chinese Army surrounded his unit in Kum Hwa near the 38th parallel in North Korea where soldiers endured temperatures as cold as 40 degrees below zero.

The mission of the Rolling Thunder Chair of Honor Program, based in North Berwick, Maine, is to bring daily reminders or understanding to major cities and small towns the meaning of POWs and MIAs. The seat is always to remain empty to help people remember that even though American soldiers are not here, there still is a space for them.

Crowell, Debbie Diveney - business operations supervisor of Goodyear Ballpark and Col. Kurt Gallegos - Commander of the 944th Reserve Wing at Luke Air Force Base, unveiled the chair of honor by removing the blanket from it during the pre-game ceremonies on Feb. 28, 2014. Crowell attended the game with his wife of 57 years, Mary, two grandsons, Andrew and Zachary, son-in-law Doug Kerfoot and friends Luke Reibos, and Harold Matz, and his wife, Sharon, all from Goodyear.

Crowell, a native of Tomahawk, Wis., who lives in Goodyear’s Trianda Terrace neighborhood, served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1951 after being drafted into the Army during his junior year of college from the University of Wisconsin. He was the grand marshal in PebbleCreek’s Veterans Day Parade in November.

“I was fortunate to make it through all I was a part of,” said Crowell, a retired high school English teacher and basketball, cross country and track coach from Aledo, Ill. who is still affected by frost bite on his feet because of the cold conditions in North Korea. “I was more fortunate than a lot of others. I’ve appreciated the recognition. There are a lot of guys who were in the same situation I was. The ceremony with the chair was nice, and it was great to have my wife and members of my family there with me.”

Col. Kurt Gallegos, who is stationed at Luke air Force Base, spoke after the chair was dedicated. 
“This plaque on the seat represents the thousands of Americans that are still missing in action,” Col. Gallegos said. “Americans have fathers and sons, spouses and comrades unaccounted for. Right now, there are more than 92,000 soldiers from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War, and right now, there are six in Afghanistan we still have missing.

“Our services are doing everything to bring those people home,” Gallegos added. “Our motto is: We will not leave one man or woman behind.”

Beside the seat is a placard that reads:

You are not forgotten

Since World War I, more than 92,000 American soldiers are unaccounted for.

This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of these brave men and women
and to the sacrifice each made in serving this country.

“We’re proud to be able to do this, knowing we have such a large veteran population,” Diveney said. “It means a lot to us, and it means a lot to them.”

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