Americans who traveled to Russia during the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) on POW/MIA Affairs 21st Plenum in Moscow, participated in a moving salute to all Russian service members who died defending the Motherland at a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at what many refer to as Russia’s Arlington, the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery opened in 2013 – the official national cemetery built next to the village of Sgonniki in the Mytishchi district five miles north of the Moscow Ring Road.
“The ceremony was significant because it had American veterans and family representatives recognizing the symbiotic relationship between all who have died serving their respective countries,” said Ann Mills-Griffiths, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National League of POW/MIA Families, which was formed in May 28, 1970 to obtain the release of all American prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our country during the Vietnam War.
In addition to Mills-Griffiths, those who participated in the wreath-laying event that acknowledged all Russia service members killed in action were USRJC U.S. Co-Chairman General Robert “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret), Russian Co-Chairman General Colonel Valery Vostrotin and VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace.
“Serving your country involves making sacrifices for it and all should honor those who died doing so,” Mills-Griffiths added. “That’s why we were there at the wreath laying. It was humanitarian. It was very nicely done. They had their troops there just like we do at Arlington, when we honored those who have died for our country in the line of battle.”
In addition, members of the U.S. contingent spent several hours at the Air Defense Museum outside central Moscow. The entire U.S. delegation also visited Patriot Park, heard briefings and observed the largest collection of military hardware from WWI, WWII, to present-day Syria, which included tanks, trucks, aircraft and artillery from the U.S., France and Great Britain. Delegation members spent several hours walking through the displays and listening to presentations before enjoying a farewell dinner at the military dining hall.
DPAA Director Kelly K. McKeague said that having Americans from the commission attend the additional events, along with Wallace representing veterans of America’s foreign wars, and Mills-Griffiths representing the families of America’s missing from the Vietnam War, “presented a broad spectrum of the humanitarian side of the POW/MIA issue to the Russians … that continues to build on the foundation of increased transparency and cooperation for our mission.”
Editor’s note: if you would like to read more from John Stryker Meyer, check out his book “SOG Chronicles: Volume One” here on Amazon — there he sheds light on the untold stories of Green Berets behind enemy lines in the Vietnam war, conducting harrowing missions with little to no support.
Images courtesy of the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Featured image: From left, at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery outside Moscow, are: Bob Wallace, VFW executive director; Russian Co-Chairman of the U.S./Russia Joint Commission General Colonel Valery Vostrotin; U.S. Co-Chairman Gen. Robert Foglesong; and Ann Mills-Griffiths, CEO/Chairman of the National League of POW/MIA Families in November, sister of a Navy pilot who remains listed as Missing in Action.