POW/MIA Recognition Day 2002
Held at Santa Fe Station Hotel and Casino

The POW/MIA flag is flown every day of the year at the Santa Fe Station Hotel/Casino!

The AVVA Nevada State Council held its first annual POW/MIA Balloon Launch this year, on POW/MIA Recognition Day. We decided to go all the way and we asked one of our local casinos to help us. The Santa Fe Station Hotel and Casino is known locally for its support of veterans and our military, so we took a chance on them simply giving us a place to hold our launch. We were very pleased, and even slightly surprised, at their response!

This hotel not only gave us a place to hold our launch,  which was at the top of the large parking garage, but they gave us the use of sound equipment, a large table to set up a "Missing Man Table", chairs covered in black (their idea!)  for guests, posters made by them, and even a small tent with soft drinks for whoever came. They also helped us find interesting speakers, such as a former Thunderbird Pilot, and a Veteran who is in management at their facility. They helped with press releases as well. Without them it would never have been, at all.

Consequently, our first endeavor was much more successful than we had originally hoped for. We lauched balloons for the POW/MIAs from Nevada, those whose bracelets many of us wear, and included one balloon for each war in addition to Vietnam. We added a white balloon, launched alone, seconds behind the others, which we informed our guests was to represent hope. Hope for our success in finding all of our lost, as well as hope that we never face this issue in future conflicts.

All in all, it was a tremendous first effort. People who came told us that they were impressed with this event, and many had no idea the problem was as large as it is! We will be planning this event every year, and will try to make it bigger and better each time until they are all home, and we no longer have to. Please pray that there will never be another.

Joanna Henshaw,
AVVA Nevada State Council


  • The first POW/MIA Balloon Launch Ceremony, held at the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV 2002
  • The POW/MIA Flag is flown daily at the Santa Fe Hotel
  • Members of AVVA prepare the balloons for the launch
  • The Basic High School ROTC performs the flag presentation
  • Shaundell Newsome, Director of Marketing for the Santa Fe Hotel and a veteran himself, speaks opening words
  • Jim McGeachy, VVA Chapter 17 member, represents the POW still held captive
  • Volunteers launch the balloons
  • B.G. Gardner, former Thunderbird and U2 pilot, reads the names of the Nevada POW/MIAs
  • Carol Lunn, a long time POW/MIA activist, and a close and loving friend to veterans, closes the ceremony with the poem written by Michael O'Donnell
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Our event for 2003, sadly, had to be cancelled. It was NOT
due to the Santa Fe Hotel, as they had happily agreed to be
our partner once again.  It was unforseen.  But we will be
holding this event again one matter what!

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