POW Day Ceremony Honors Stevens
A military couple from the Wesson area held in prisoner of war camps during World War II will be honored with the placing of a memorial plaque commemorating their armed forces service and POW incarceration on their graves at Wesson Cemetery in a special ceremony this Friday.
The ceremony at the grave sites of Brigadier-General Luther Rea Stevens and his wife Lula Turnbow Stevens will highlight National POW/MIA Day on September 17 in Wesson. Local, state and national dignitaries are expected to be present at Wesson Cemetery throughout Friday morning.
Over four years, Cathy Stroud of Wesson, who oversees Socks for Heroes, a local charity that seeks to meet needs of veterans in care facilities throughout the region, spearheaded efforts with visits to dozens of people and organizations raise monies for a marker at the Stevens grave. She also spurred the production of a special video distributed nationally by Wreaths Across America (WAA) that spotlighted Wesson cemetery and her efforts to properly honor the Stevens. WAA coordinates the laying of wreaths on the graves of veterans during the Christmas season at 2,100 the cemeteries throughout the U.S.
Brigadier-General Stevens was born on July 4, 1888, and died on February 7, 1973. He served as Commander of the Mindanao & Sula District in the Philippine Constabulary from 1924-27 and 1929, Superintendent of the Philippine Constabulary Academy during 1927 and Commanding General of the 91st Philippine Division in 1941 and 1942. He was a Prisoner of War from 1942-45 at the Hotten POW Camp in China. The General's wife, the former Lula Turnbow born in 1895 at Bogue Chito, was POW from 1943-45 at Santo Tomas in the Philippines. General Stevens was the son of the Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Stevens of Wesson, and his wife, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Turnbow of Brookhaven. The Stevenses died on Feb. 7, 1973, in a traffic accident at Saint Petersburg, Florida.
POW/MIA Recognition Day, established in 1979 by the President and Congress after families of more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIA pushed for full accountability, is commemorated on the third Friday of every September, a date that's not associated with any particular war to ensure that America remembers and shows that it stands behind those who serve, and to make sure the Nation does everything it can to account for those who have never returned.
The remains of almost 82,000 Americans are still missing, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) -- 73,515 from World War II, 7,841 from the Korean War, 1,626 from Vietnam, 126 from the Cold War and 6 from conflicts since 1991.The DPAA says about 75 percent of those missing Americans are somewhere in the Asia-Pacific, more than 41,000 have presumed lost at sea. Efforts to find those men, identify them and bring them home are constant.