As of printing, the number of Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War remains over 1,500, including 8 North Dakotans. The United States’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year. Many Americans take the time to remember those who were prisoners of war (POW) and those who are missing in action (MIA), as well as their families — many of which have yet to receive closure.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, the Matthew Brew Post #3 American Legion Riders will be honoring those strong souls with a ride throughout the Western Edge specifically designed to bring awareness to those that remain missing, were or are prisoners, and their families.
Dean Kadrmas, the person in charge of the Matthew Brew Post #3 American Legion Riders, and Joe Simon, are helping run the event on Saturday. This is the first time in the Legion's history that it will be running the event.
"Mainly you’re mainly remembering the Prisoners of War and also those Missing In Action and they don’t know where they’re at anymore, or they’re still in prison somewhere, or dead, they don’t know," Kadrmas said. "It’s all about recognizing them. You got programs going on all year for the veterans, but this is one for the POW and MIA."
Veteran rallies take place in many states on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and American and POW/MIA flags are flown on this day as joint prayers are made for POWs and those missing in action. National POW/MIA Recognition Day posters are also displayed at college or university campuses and public buildings to promote the day. Remembrance ceremonies and other events to observe the day are also held in places such as the Pentagon, war memorials and museums.
The event in Stark County is scheduled to begin at the Stark County Veterans Pavilion in Dickinson on Sept. 19 with registration and sign ups for the $20 poker run, which will be from 9-10 a.m. Following the registration a speech will be given before riders rev-up bikes and cruise through the streets at 10:30 a.m. From there the bikers will stop in Regent, Hettinger, Bowman, Belfield and will conclude the event back in Dickinson at the Esquire Club.
After the ride, those that are 21-and-over will be able to partake in the 'Poker Run' in which people can win money.
Kadrmas said the event is a time to honor those that are currently, or have been POW. but also remember those that are still MIA and may never be seen again.
"It’s like a memorial ride more than anything for the MIA because You never know if they're dead or in prison," Kadrmas said. "There’s going to be a lot of veterans that are going to be there for the ride. You get a lot of the Vietnam (veterans) and they are still missing buddies. My age group, Afghanistan and Iraq and stuff, we’re pretty good. But if you go back to Vietnam and Korea and the other wars, there are still people missing ... and there’s a lot of POW that are alive that are out there today."
The Matthew Brew Post #3 American Legion Riders will also be accepting donations for the cause at the Stark County Veterans Pavilion during registration. Those that may want to help but don't have a motorcycle or may not want to ride will be able to give to the cause then.
Kadrmas said those that register, or donate, will be able to take a souvenir with them that resembles something that holds great importance to all veterans -- dog tags.
"When they register, we give them a dog tag on one side it has the United States red white and blue, and on the back it says United Legion, Matthew Brew Post #3, Dickinson N.D.," Kadrmas said. "It’s not an original military dog tag, but it’s like the military dog tag."
Despite this year being the first year the Matthew Brew Post #3 American Legion Riders are running the event, events like the upcoming ride have taken place throughout the state of North Dakota. Last year, the local bikers had approximately 80 riders join for the cause. Kadrmas hopes more will join and be there for Saturday and is confident it can happen, based on the community of Dickinson. And it's strong ability to be there respect, and honor, the veterans that risked their lives for this country.
"Dickinson is a very patriotic town, a lot of people show up for events like this. We usually have good turnouts," Kadrmas said. "Hopefully we can do it the next few years too.
For more information, contact Dean Kadrmas at 701-260-8339, or Joe Simon at 701-290-7614.