Last Patrol holds walk for POW/MIA issue

By Vickie Snow

The Last Patrol is dedicated to keeping the POW/MIA issue alive and making it difficult for America’s military personnel to ever become “unaccounted for” again, the program’s coordinator said.

“The longer we wait, more are dying in prisons,” said Sandi Walker, Illinois State Coordinator for the Last Patrol, an awareness group for the POW/MIA (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action) cause.

The group is staging its Walk for Freedom from Sept. 26 to Sept. 29 from Chicago to Godley, a small town south of Joliet. Once in Godley, entertainment and camping at the Godley Park District will be available to the public for the weekend.

The 80-mile walk is one of the ways the Last Patrol raises funding and awareness for its charitable organization. Walker hopes that future fundraisers can be planned because the organization “keeps struggling along” for donations and continues trying to “get the government to do something about (the situation).”

The United States government currently is at the swordpoint of about seven lawsuits for “closing the books on people,” Walker said.

These lawsuits stem from incidents where the government-hired anthropologists positively identified six or seven bones contained in caskets as belonging to POWs and MIAs.

When the soldiers’ families received the “bodies” thought to be their missing loved ones, they sought their own anthropologists who determined the fragments “could be anybody,” Walker said.

“There is no way a positive ID could be made (when they were dealing with) only parts of skeletons,” she added.

For this reason, the number of actual POWs and MIAs is an estimate. Americans still hope to hear news of the yet unaccounted for 2,390 veterans, 103 of which are from Illinois, Walker said.

The walk is an effort to promote awareness of this too often forgotten fact. “Captivity of American citizens is the issue and has been for 20 years,” said Pam Petersen, Assistant Coordinator of the Last Patrol’s Illinois division.

“America is blessed with citizens of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds – that is this country’s greatest strength – and captivity of any one of its citizens is wrong,” she said.

The walkers are provided with lodging and meals, as well as a rest vehicle since “everbody doesn’t walk the entire way,” Walker said.

Walker also is a nurse and, along with a Vietnam medic coming from Texas, will assist the walkers.

Anyone can join the walk and sign-up is not necessary. For further information, contact Pam Petersen at (312) 668-4427 or Mary Holub at (312) 393-9397.