Big step for memorial park

Retired Army Col. Bill Richardson, a POW from the Korean War, spoke at Dobbins' POW/MIA Park annual living memorial ceremony, where a plaque was dedicated to honor POW/MIAs from that war. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Peek)

Retired Army Col. Bill Richardson, a POW from the Korean War, spoke at Dobbins' POW/MIA Park annual living memorial ceremony, where a plaque was dedicated to honor POW/MIAs from that war. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Peek)

A volunteer works at installing the new Korean War memorial at the Dobbins POW/MIA park. The installation took place directly after the living memorial ceremony and tree planting. The monument is one of four planned for the park. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Peek)

A volunteer works at installing the new Korean War memorial at the Dobbins POW/MIA park. The installation took place directly after the living memorial ceremony and tree planting. The monument is one of four planned for the park. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Peek)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga., -- "Today is a very special day in more ways than one," said retired Army Col. William Richardson. "57 years ago today, was the very day that I was released as a prisoner of war."

On Sept. 21, Colonel Richardson was the guest speaker for the annual POW/MIA Memorial Park tree-planting ceremony here which included a Korean War Memorial plaque dedication.

Through the cool, crisp overcast skies he told his story of survival, teamwork, hope and stressing emphasis on how important the Reserves and Guard was in the past and the present military mission.

"This is a very special event meant to remember the sacrifice and diligence they made for their country," said Col. Heath Nuckolls, 94th Airlift Wing commander. "Those who have not returned home will never be forgotten. That is why we are here today."

Colonel Richardson, who traveled from his North Carolina home to be here, started his speech by pointing out how great it was that so many small communities show their support by getting together and having ceremonies to display their patriotism. He then shared his story as a prisoner of war during the Korean War.

"We went north into the deep northern part of Korea and were overwhelmed by the amount of Chinese forces on the ground. My battalion lost approximately 600 out of 720 ground troops. Shortly after the ground fight, I was taken prisoner and was a prisoner of war for 34 months," said Colonel Richardson. "I was initially captured by the Chinese and escaped that day, only to be recaptured within 24 hours."

Colonel Richardson stressed how brutal the North Koreans were toward prisoners. He stated how many prisoners died from the lack of food, medical care, cold weather, and executions.

After Colonel Richardson finished telling the story of endurance, he focused on thanking the Reserves for what they do for the military and how when he was a commander he first discovered how vital the Reserves were to the military mission. He and Colonel Nuckolls had the honor of unveiling the park's new plaque commemorating the Korean War. The plaque was then installed into the marble slab located on the second tier of the memorial park.

There are four tiers at the park. The upper tier is dedicated to the Vietnam War, the second to the Korean War, the third to World War II and the last to World War I. Sidewalks traverse through the park, running in front of each wall. The only memorial plaques that have been placed are for World War II and the Korean War. With support, the park hopes to add more trees, complete the plaques, and include additional areas for POW/MIAs from the Gulf War and the Global War on Terror. For more information visit: http://dobbinspowmia.com/