Inspired by the story of Francis DeSales Willis, one of her county’s missing Vietnam Veterans, Charles County Commission President Candice Quinn Kelly has led an initiative to recognize all of Maryland’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW-MIA) soldiers. Charles County decided to send a POW-MIA flag in exchange for every Maryland county’s flag, with the hopes that each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City would one day fly the POW-MIA flag.
“Candice Quinn Kelly heard from her local Rolling Thunder chapter about a Charles County, Md. man, Francis DeSales Wills, who was reported missing in action in 1969 while flying a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam, likely shot down over Da Nang.
“They said we should be flying the (prisoner of war-missing in action) flag, and it made sense,” said Kelly.
As the flag was raised above the Charles County courthouse, Kelly thought it could go further. Every county in the state could, and should, fly it.
In regards to the Maryland county flag exchange, Commissioner Kelly noted that,
“We have a complete collection now,” Kelly said. “Everyone is doing it.”
The complete collection of county flags will be displayed at the Maryland Association of Counties’ Winter Conference, December 11-13, 2013, along with a DVD explaining the project and honoring the POW-MIA soldiers of Maryland.
““These veterans were heroes, but we didn’t welcome them home that way. There’s an overwhelming sadness we didn’t do better for them. Whatever we do now, it’s too little too late…We can never make that right, but we can relive moments and give to that family what we all as a county, state and country could have done if we did better,” she said.