Missing Man Table Installed in the McCallister DFAC

  • Published
  • By SrA Brandan Hollis
  • 166th Force Support Squadron

The 166th Airlift Wing Force Support Squadron presented their new Missing Man Table at the dining facility at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, Del. on Aug. 19, 2023. The Missing Man Table is a display that honors Prisoners of War and those who have gone Missing in Action. The table is displayed in the dining facility of a base to remind everyone in attendance the sacrifice some soldiers have paid for America's freedom.

Plans to include the Missing Man Table at the 166th AW go back years. “Chief Master Sgt. King wanted to make sure that we etched out an area for this Missing Man Table. And then with COVID, the deployments and everything, things slowed down,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth B. Bennett, 166th FSS Services Craftsman.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Fernandez 166th FSS, Force Development Superintendent, tasked Bennett to include a Missing Man Table in the dining facility. From there, Bennett took the baton and passed it to Technical Sgt. Ameen Walston, 166th FSS dining facility accountant. “Sergeant Bennett tasked me to do it. My role was to do the research, to find out every single item that was needed and the symbolism of each item,” said Walston. “I [saw] some examples and I put the pieces together to make the missing man table come alive.”

The table that Walston crafted observes all of the Missing Man Table’s symbolisms. The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing men. The cloth is white to symbolize the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers. The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for our missing. A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt represents the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast. The chair is empty to symbolize the seat that remains unclaimed at the table.

The display will serve as a reminder for Traditional Guardsmen coming in for monthly drill weekends. “It'll benefit us in the Delaware Guard for us to always remember the people who came before us, who sacrificed, whether they are still encaptured, imprisoned, dead or even missing,” said Walston.

Bennett plans on including the Missing Man Table at the dining facility permanently. “Yeah, it's not gonna go away and as long as this building's here, it will be here. Even if the building moves to a nicer facility it will be there as well,” said Bennett. “[We] want people to know that, ‘hey, we're supportive of our fallen, our missing and our P.O.Ws’ but also to educate them, let them know what guidance means learn and inquire about some history. We want it to be something that sparks some type of interest and hopefully it connects [with] them.”