Baldwin to host first POW/MIA remembrance ceremony

By Allison Marlow
Posted 9/6/17

Tell your story. Know your history. Don’t repeat the mistakes of those before you.

That is the message Seymour “Sy” Lichtenfeld wants young and old to learn, and, to remember.

The …

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Baldwin to host first POW/MIA remembrance ceremony

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Tell your story. Know your history. Don’t repeat the mistakes of those before you.

That is the message Seymour “Sy” Lichtenfeld wants young and old to learn, and, to remember.

The 92-year-old World War II veteran was an Army paratrooper and combat infantryman when he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, which lasted from December, 1944, to January, 1945.

The ferocious fight took place in the frozen forests of the Ardennes as more than a quarter-million German troops launched the deadliest battle of the war. Their goal was to split the Allied forces with a surprise attack.

Lichtenfeld’s unit was surrounded for three days. They ran out of food and ammunition and were eventually taken prisoner, at the point of bayonets. He would remain a prisoner of war until the Axis forces were defeated in September, 1945.

On Saturday, he will address the community in Baldwin County’s first annual POW/ MIA Remembrance Ceremony. The event will also commemorate the service of local Vietnam Veterans as the nation continues to honor the 50th anniversary of that war.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 15.

As the keynote speaker, Lichtenfeld will urge younger generations not just to listen to veterans’ war stories, but to hear the lessons in them as well.

“My message to young people especially is to know history so the same mistakes are not made over and over,” he said. “I also emphasize to veterans to make sure your oral and written histories are known not only for their families but to their communities to understand at what cost others have made so that we can enjoy our freedoms today.”

After the war Lichtenfeld earned an engineering degree from Purdue University and ran a successful business in Miami. He and his wife Natalie relocated to Mobile in 2011. Currently he serves on the Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs, and has served on several American Ex-Prisoners of War organizations.

Lichtenfeld’s book about his experience as a POW, entitled “KRIEGIE 312330” was recently accepted by the Library of Congress and is available on Amazon.com.

Each year a ceremony is held in Montgomery to honor the state’s POWs and MIAs. Local organizers decided it was time to host a ceremony along the Gulf coast too.

Spanish Fort resident, Jerry Cherne, of the Jesse Andrews Jr. Detachment #1378 of the Marine Corps League, helped to organize the local ceremony. He said the nation’s continued search for missing military members is a vital mission that helps families find closure and peace.

“Yes it costs money and there are a lot of competing efforts for dollars in Washington these days but when a serviceman or woman is called to service and they don’t come home the least our country can do is continue the effort to try and find them,” he said.

Congressman Bradley Byrne will also speak at Saturday’s event.

“We should never miss an opportunity to honor, remember, and recognize those who have served our great country. This event will give us the opportunity to share our deep appreciation with veterans of the Vietnam War, while also honoring the life and sacrifice of prisoners of war and those still missing in action,” Byrne said. “I hope everyone in the community will come out to share their appreciation, and I especially hope parents will bring their children so they can learn more about the impressive service of our nation’s veterans.”