Wife of 512th Airwing Commander Remembers Father on POW/MIA Reco - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wife of 512th Airwing Commander Remembers Father on POW/MIA Recognition Day

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(Photo: CBS) (Photo: CBS)

WYOMING, Del. (WBOC) - The third Friday of September is set aside as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. It is a meaningful day for people with loved ones who have been prisoners of war or missing in action.

Maureen Kozak is the wife of Col. Raymond Kozak, commander of the 512th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base. Maureen's father was in the Air Force. He was a pilot and went missing in action in Vietnam.

Col. Kelly Cook spent more than two decades flying for the US military, starting in World War II.

Maureen was only 7 when her father went to Vietnam in 1967.

"He had only been in Vietnam probably less than two months when he was on a night mission in an F-4C fighter jet. He was shot down. He was one of two aircraft shot down that night," she said. "At that time he was missing in action. In 1976 they changed the designation to killed in action and body not recovered."

Maureen says the decade in between was tough for her family.

"Our family didn't talk about it very much. It was very private. It was difficult. My mother first hoped he was a POW. She sent packages through the Red Cross in his name."

Maureen says it wasn't until many years later that her family found out Cook had been captured by the North Vietnamese, died of his injuries within a day and was buried at a nearby farm. His body has still not been found.

Now, with her husband stationed at DAFB, home to the nation's largest military mortuary, Maureen works with friends of the fallen.

"That's why I decided to be a volunteer," she explained. "I have walked in their footsteps so to speak. When our father was reported missing in action, there was a lot of support, both locally, from the Air Force Academy and from the government."

And she says it's knowing the government is still thinking about her father, her family and others like them, that makes POW/MIA Recognition Day important to her.

"There's the airman's creed for the Air Force. It talks about never leaving an airman behind. These observances every year - even though they're not able to locate his remains yet - we know they're still thinking of him and families like ours."

For this year's POW/MIA Recognition Day there were Delaware events in Dover at DAFB and in Georgetown at the Vietnam Memorial on The Circle.

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