Gunther Honors Women Veterans, Prisoners of War/Soldiers Missing in Action

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh) expressed her gratitude today for the commitment and service to all women veterans in New York State by supporting a resolution commemorating this year’s Women’s Veterans’ Recognition Day. Gunther also announced that her bill (A.6977) to fly the POW/MIA flag at state police facilities passed the Veterans Affairs committee today.

"Women veterans have set an example in the devotion and persistence they have shown in the service of our country," Gunther said. "For their courage, they have died, have been injured and have had to face the nightmare of war – in lives lost, families shattered and cities left in rubble. Their stories give testimony to the high price we pay for freedom."

Gunther noted the service of Middletown resident, (Ret.) Sgt. Irene Guilfoyle who served in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II, from 1943-1950 at Cherry Point, North Carolina and at the New York City Aviation School, on the Assembly floor. Gunther also recognized the military service of Sgt. Guilfoyle’s husband, (Ret.) Gunnery Sgt. John Guilfoyle who served in the 3rd Marine Division in the South Pacific, Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima. The Guilfoyle’s, married for 55 years, have 2 sons, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

Gunther also emphasized the importance of flying the POW/MIA flag. "It is a fitting tribute this Flag Day, when we celebrate the symbol of our nation, that we remember the heroes whose untold suffering gives us the privilege of liberty," Gunther said.

Since enactment of the National POW/MIA Recognition Act of 1997, the POW/MIA flag must be flown at the White House, U.S. Capitol and other government offices on certain holidays. Gunther’s measure recommends New York State police facilities display it on the same days, when the American flag is also raised to honor men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The flag was created more than 30 years ago through the efforts of Mrs. Mary Hoff, the wife of a serviceman and member of the National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. The flag’s emblem is a white disk showing the black silhouette of the bust of a man, a watch tower with a guard holding a rifle and a strand of barbed wire. The letters POW and MIA frame a 5-pointed star. A wreath and the words, "You are not forgotten" are below the disk.

"The legislation honors our friends, our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers who died and disappeared fighting for our country," Gunther said. "Flying this flag affirms our tradition of paying homage to their sacrifices."