Wiregrass Newsroom: Veterans and legislators raise first flag at Ozark rest area

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

OZARK, AL (WSFA) - This day is for people like 79 year old Hank Nix.

A prisoner of war for nearly three years during the Korean War, seeing the POW-MIA flag brings back memories of time in POW camps.

"There were no medical supplies, no medical facilities. Pneumonia was rampant, influenza was rampant," says Nix.

But for him and many other veteran support groups, it's a day they've waited to see.

And now they're feeling...

"Pretty darn good," says Fred Griffin, Coordinator of the Lower Alabama Veterans Alliance.

Officials raised the first Prisoner of War-Missing in Action flag to fly at a state building.

The flag went up at a Highway 231 rest area in Ozark. It comes nearly two weeks after the POW-MIA Flag bill passed in the legislature allowing state buildings to fly the flag.

But it's not the first time it's been to the state house. The bill was stalled last year when some thought the state would have to buy the flags.

It took two legislative sessions to become law. But now, the fruit of that labor is flying high.

"We attacked it with renewed vigor this year, and it came to pass on the last day of the regular session," says Griffin.

The bill was rewritten this year to be at no expense to the state, and gave state buildings the option to decide whether to fly the flag.

"The veterans are committed to raising these flags all over the state of Alabama. We will never forget," says District 29 State Senator, Harri Anne Smith.

And while Hank Nix receives much of the honor, he gives the credit to his wartime colleagues.

"If they hadn't been who they were I wouldn't have remembered nearly as intensely what they did."

What they did is remembered now with a flag as a means of saying thank you.

There are currently 32 Alabama POW-MIAs still missing from the Vietnam War.

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