Memorial Day Flower Drop Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Release, Return Home of American Vietnam POW

Carmela Karcher

A day dedicated to remember but to never forget.

As hundreds gathered at the Palm Springs Air Museum to enjoy what it has to offer, it was also a time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Especially the 31 local fallen heroes.

Nearly every person in attendance had a story.

“Every time we come out here, it’s such a beautiful blessing to see everybody in support of all the fallen and active members,” Gold Star Family Member Albert Villa shared. “We just want to say thank you. It’s an honor.”

“My brother was in the Vietnam War, my father-in-law was in the Korean War and my father landed at Iwo Jima in World War II,” Palm Springs American Legion Owen Coffman Post 519 Commander Kent Fort said. “Though I never served, it’s what drew me to the American Legion and to become a son…they have passed so I just feel like they were pulling me towards that.”

“I had to attend funerals for two of my former students (Suresh Krause and Ming Sun),” Cathedral City High School Teacher Lee Wilson Jr. shared. “During World War II between 1940 and 1943, seven students from Palm Springs High School gave their lives so that means teachers during World War II could have gone to seven different funerals. I just empathize with the teachers that came before me.”

This year was extra special as it marked the 50th anniversary of the release and return home of American Vietnam prisoners of war.

To the reading of local names who died in combat, a missing man flight formation and a prayer to protect those who are currently serving, it was the flower drop where thousands of red and white carnations fluttered down from a vintage plane that makes us remember why we take this day to memorialize.

“Everybody should remember those who sacrificed, gave the ultimate sacrifice, for this country so people can have their freedom, walk around, say and do what they want,” Villa shared. “It’s really those who sacrificed that we really have to appreciate and say thank you.”

Each carnation color has a meaning.

Red to honor those who died in recent conflicts like the Persian Gulf, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

White to honor those who fought in both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.

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