SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) took time from their workdays to participate in the 29th annual National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day 5K on Sept. 9 at Naval Base San Diego.
Fifty Sailors attended the first POW/MIA 5K remembrance run in 1986. More than 2,500 San Diego-area service members and their families participated in this year's run at Admiral Prout Field.
The event started with Navy Musician 2nd Class Nina Church, assigned to Navy Band Southwest, performing the national anthem followed by an invocation from a local chaplain. Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph F. Kling, a WWII POW, delivered the opening speech.
America produced the largest number of participants with more than 250 runners registered.
"It was really cool to see that much participation from America and Naval Base San Diego as a whole," said Chief (select) Aviation Ordnanceman Javier Keyser, assigned to America. "There were over 45 commands here, and it was amazing to be able to come together like that."
It was 98 degrees, but despite the heat, the Sailors participating remained motivated. Keyser described the importance of being able to finish the run despite the harsh weather conditions.
"It would be a shame for us to quit on something like this when we are home safe and free," said Keyser. "We are able to do this run, not just for dedication for them, but in remembrance of those that have fallen. We definitely used that as some of our motivation to push ourselves."
Ships Serviceman 3rd Class David Wright described why it was important for him to participate in a run commemorating the POW/MIA.
"It was a fun race to be apart of, and I'm happy to be able to take the time to help recognize the POW/MIA through this run," said Wright.
The Navy band performed and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offered a raffle at the conclusion of the run with multiple prizes to those participating.