POW/MIA: Airmen give respect to missing personnel

  • Published
  • By Robb Lingley
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
A weeklong observance was held during the annual Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Remembrance Week at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 17-21, 2018. The week included a flag raising ceremony, a 24-hour run, guest speakers, and concluded with a remembrance and retreat ceremony.

Guest speakers for the event were Elaine Mosberg, widow of MIA Capt. Henry Lee Mosberg, Vietnam War veteran and retired Army Master Sgt. Edwin Beck, a World War II POW.

Henry was a pilot assigned to the 114th Assault Helicopter Company. On Sept. 26, 1966, he was assigned a combat assault mission in the Delta region of South Vietnam over Vinh Binh Province, where Henry’s Bell Huey utility helicopter was fired upon and downed at the mouth of the Son Co Chien River in approximately 9 feet of water.

One soldier survived and another body was retrieved. Henry was not found, nor was his gunner, Specialist 4 Marvin F. Phillips.

“The search and rescue only lasted two days,” said Elaine. “When the aircraft was retrieved from the South China Sea my husband’s harness was determined to have been unlocked and as any good pilot knows, dead men can’t do this.”

Henry was listed MIA Sept. 28, 1966 before being listed as killed in action later in 1966 by his commander.

In 2010, Elaine was informed that a body had been returned to the U.S. The body was Phillips, Henry’s gunner.

“When Phillips remains were identified it made it possible for my husband’s case to be reopened after being closed in 1995,” said Elaine. “In 2017, I found out that Henry had been killed while trying to escape a re-education camp in 1973.”

The incident is still under review and needs verification.
“On Sept. 26, 2018 I will have been waiting 52 years for my best friend to come home to me,” said Elaine.

Beck followed Elaine and told his story.

He joined the Army in 1943. On Dec. 19, 1944, while serving as a gunner in the 106th Infantry Division, 422nd Regiment, during the Battle of the Bulge, he and 19 other Americans were surrounded and captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Buldge. They were forced to march 150 miles in five days to a POW camp near Oschatz, Germany.

After spending nearly six months as a POW, Beck eventually escaped the camp and found his way back to U.S. control. He then made his way home before later serving in the Korean War.

“When I first got home, I would lay down and wake up afraid to move, still thinking I was in a prison camp,” said Beck.

Dating back to World War II through the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Iraq and other conflicts, there are approximately 82,468 service members MIA, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.