The Journal
At the reception following the event, pictured left to right is: Nancy Park, Mike Parker, Event Chairman, Dr. Mike Belinson, Vietnam2Now member Darrell Gilgan.

The third Friday of September is known as National POW and MIA Remembrance Day, which was established to honor prisoners of war and those still missing in action. The Rockford chapter of Vietnam2Now once again hosted a ceremony at Loves Park city hall commemorating the event.

The group presented a video. Keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony was Dave Davis.

It has been estimated that over 2,000 to 2,500 veterans of American wars have never returned home. There are ceremonies held in twelve different countries where some are buried. These are important gestures for those service people and their families in order to honor those veterans and their families who were never able to see their loved ones again.

The National POW and MIA Remembrance Day goes back to the Jimmy Carter administration in 1979. But it didn’t come until the 1990s that U.S. Congress officially declared the third Friday in September as the Remembrance Day.

Locally, the Vietnam2Now Chapter remembers Sgt. First Class Alan Lee Boyer, U.S. Army Special Forces, a Green Beret, who went missing on March 28, 1968, while on a reconnaissance mission several miles inside of Laos, along with two other American sergeants and seven South Vietnamese soldiers. They came under heavy enemy fire and requested extraction.

On that day in 1968 Boyer was in need of being rescued in Laos but due to the rough terrain the helicopter couldn’t land and a rope ladder was extended.

Seven South Vietnamese (ARVN) were extracted and Boyer was starting to climb a rope ladder when it either caught on jungle foliage or was shot away, aborting the mission and stranding three Americans.

A subsequent search party a few days later could find no trace of them. Alan was listed as Missing in Action for nearly 48 years. Boyer’s remains were final located by three Lao Nationals (“remains traders”) and turned over to an activist in Laos who turned them in. Alan’s sister, Judy Boyer Bouchard, was notified and she was presented with Alan’s posthumous medals, including the Silver Star (the third highest military decoration awarded) and a Purple Heart (awarded to troops who were wounded in action).

It will probably never be known just exactly when and where Alan died but now he finally came home with interment at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Boyer’s mother, the late Dorothy Boyer, was ever vigilant of some day having her son returned home, died before Alan was found.

In attendance at the ceremony was Gold Star Mother Angie White of Rockford, whose son, Ken, was killed in Vietnam in 1969. She (with her late husband and a son) has always attended the MIA/POW event.

Quoting from a couple of letters that Ken wrote home in his own words are some of his thoughts on what was happening at the time: “I don’t like this war, or what I am doing, but I do believe in what I am fighting for and I’ll continue to fight as long as I have to. I have seen men die for their country because they wanted to keep America free for themselves and for their families.”

“What a price to pay – but it has been paid many times over here in Vietnam…I’ll fight the best I can and so much as I can to help…and I know as I lead other men I’ll be leading them for something great and precious to us all.” Ken was a 1967 graduate of Rockford West High School.

After “Taps” was played, fellowship and refreshments in the city hall cafeteria followed.

Some background and history links were provided by Bruce Jacobsen, a member of the Vietnam2Now POW/MIA Committee, and chairman of the annual POW/MIA event:

Noted by Jacobsen was the following information:

“I was chairman for a dozen years. Our organization has been sponsoring the annual POW/MIA Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony for 28 years…until Covid-19 we did large live audience presentations at the “Field of Honor” in Loves Park, unless there was bad weather, and it was moved indoors to the Loves Park Auditorium. Finally, after enough bad weather events, they told me to just plan one indoors instead of planning two events for a fast option change.

“The 2020 video program put together by the Harlem Vets Project at Harlem High School was well received by cable systems across the country with the cable system in Manchester, NH, Peoria, AZ, and the Golden West Cable system out west added the 2022 availability. Another cable production this year brought it to an audience at Loves Park city hall with the video presentation supplemented by the live functions of our Honor Guard and bugler.”

Jacobsen attached some links to the past three programs and one additional short from 2011…Illinois Monument – Andersonville National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) (, link to 2022 Program, National POW/MIA Recognition Day 2022 Ceremony – YouTube, Link to 2021 Program, Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony for POW/MIA’s 2021 – YouTube link to 2020 Program

“On the Congressionally designated third Friday of September, the Rockford Charter Chapter of ‘Vietnam2Now’ has, for 28 years, acknowledged and remembered POWs and MIAs, and supported the families of those held as POW’s and those that are Missing In Action. This ceremonial event has long been assisted by the Navy Club Ship No. 1, and the American Legion and VFW and their members of Rockford and the surrounding area.

“Beginning in 2020 this program was videotaped and was broadcast on Community Access Channels 17 and 57 in the Rockford area. It also was on the Spectrum system channel 994 in Northern Illinois, and Wisconsin and was available on all cable systems of Wisconsin. It continues to be available on those cable systems that initially expanded to the Midwest region and beyond, and in 2022 New Hampshire and the Dakotas regions were added.

“The resolve to continue this POW/MIA event stays strong in this community as it has roots that go back to the Civil War. The concern about the horrible treatment of POWs at the Confederate Andersonville Prison Camp (in Georgia) resulted in the funding and creation carved at Trigg & Co. in Rockford of the first…and still the largest monument placed by the state of Illinois to honor those POWs at the Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery. It was dedicated Dec. 20, 1912, and other states followed with their monuments. That resolve remained strong when the local memories of the mistreatment of Union soldiers ensured the World War II German prisoners were treated well at Camp Grant POW camp just south of Rockford, that site is now Greater Rockford Airport.”

Other links:

“For this event: a video can be found on “On Demand” until Nov. 15; A link to the 2022 Program: National POW/MIA Recognition Day 2022 Ceremony – YouTube; link to 2021 Program Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony for POW/MIA’s 2021 – YouTube; a link to the 2020 Program; an excerpt from an earlier live ceremony caught on the fly by an audience member.

“If you listen carefully toward the end, they remark that they wish they had gotten the beginning of the singer because it was so good. We have always tried to have a quality program: Remembering our POW/MIA -YouTube.”

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