New POW / MIA Memorial to be Dedicated

A new memorial to Saline County prisoners of war and missing in action will be dedicated on Memorial Day.

According to the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 62, they will pay tribute to POWs and to Maj. Dennis Pugh at an unveiling and dedication ceremony on Monday. A new site at the Salina-Saline County War Memorial will be unveiled and dedicated to POWs, and to Major Dennis Pugh who is still missing in action at a Memorial Day ceremony in Sunset Park.

The project was spearheaded by Jason McIntire, Commander of The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 62 and fellow Squadron members Kirk Cibolsk (Vice Commander) and Adam Hummel (Treasure). McIntire came up with the idea last year after wondering how many Salina/Saline county residents became POW/MIAs in the wars.

140,000 American service members were captured and served time as prisoners of war according to the Veterans Affairs, and more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the more than 81,500 missing, 75% of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e. ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).

The following 11 individuals were POWs from Saline County and will be honored with inscribed paving bricks at the new site:

  • Donald A. Achenbach, WWII/AF BS452 BG
  • James Cole, WWII/Air Force
  •  Harold Fulton, WWII/Army AF 15AF
  • Wilbur D. Gott, WWII/Army 28INF
  • Robert H. Maxey, Korea, Vietnam/Army Co G 32 Regt 7 Div
  • Thomas A. McGinness, WWII/Army
  • Vernon K. Rawlings, WWII/8AF 9
  • Kenneth Schoshke, WWII/Army 34INF
  • Charlie A. Stanley, WWII/Army AF B24 Bomber Pilot
  • Ernest V. Swanson, WWII/Army AF ETO 44BG
  • Lewis J. Wehr, WWII/Army 31INF

Major Dennis Gerard Pugh, Vietnam, 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th U.S. Air Force, was the only individual from Saline County MIA, and will be honored with a monument.

To raise funds for the project, which cost over $10,000, McIntire and committee members held fundraisers.

McIntire said, “To myself it is very important to not only learn history, but also to remember those who have fought and died to give people the freedom we have today. The POW/MIA monument we are building, thanks those veterans from Salina/Saline county and to make sure they are never forgotten.”

The Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled to begin Monday at 11 a.m. in the park.