SWEET, Idaho — According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there are more than 80,000 service members are still missing from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Wars.
Hundreds of those military members are from Idaho.
Boise Valley POW/MIA states there are 326 service members from World War II, 27 from the Korean War, and eight from the Vietnam War who never came home to the Gem State. Executive director of the Boise Valley Chapter, Ralph Kramer, said local veterans and patriots are working to get those missing military members' families' support and closure.
"It's a cause that won't go away," Kramer said. "When we get everybody back home, then we're done. That's going to take a long time."
Kramer said POW/MIA is in the business of spreading awareness of those previous wars and of those affected. It's something he's been urging parents and grandparents to have discussions about with new generations.
"You know where your grandparents are and you know where they're buried. Some of you know where your great grandparents are at. There are a lot of families out there who have no idea whatsoever where they can go or where their family's remains are at," Kramer said.
Kramer, who is a retired service member from the air force, has been part of the Boise Valley POW/MIA Corp for 12 years. POW/MIA hits close to home for him because his duty during the Air Force was to load up planes. He said he was usually the last one to see crews before they left on a mission, and the first one to greet them when they returned.
"When they take off and formation of three and four, and they come back and they're missing one, it affects us," Kramer said. "It affects all of us."
The Boise Valley Chapter and other agencies around the country work to support the families of those who are missing.
"I went to DC a few years ago for what they call their, 'Summit meeting of all the families and I got to meet the families," Kramer said tearfully. "Just to hear them say, 'Thank you,' is reward enough."
Boise Valley POW/MIA hosted the 16th Annual Sweet Ride, which helps raises money for the National League of POW/MIA Families. It drew hundreds of people from around Idaho to honor, donate and support the families of those missing and prisoners of war.
A lot of stories that were shared touched many people that came out to the ride Sunday.
"We have family members that are vets, we have significant others that are vets," said Emily Figgins with Veterans & Patriots Association, Chapter 43-1. "We want to make sure that they're not forgotten."
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease worldwide, Kramer said teams with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency are starting to be allowed back into other countries to resume recovery operations.
While that goes on nationally and overseas, Kramer said he'll keep spreading awareness and support locally.
"It's our privilege, that every time I see that flag I think about those families and what they have to go through every day," Kramer said.
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