ELKO — The POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association’s mission is to give a voice to those who no longer have a voice and bring all missing service men and women home.
As part of this mission, the association is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year — the fifth annual chili feed and auction scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 19 in the ballroom at Red Lion Hotel & Casino.
Proceeds from the $5 “all you can eat” chili sales and from the auction are donated to the National League of Families.
“It’s important because without the League of Families doing what they do, the whole POW/MIA issue would fade away,” said Les Brown, commanding officer for the Elko association.
He said the Elko association is the only POW/MIA association in the entire state of Nevada. In September of each year, the NLF receives a donation from the association chapter out of Pocatello, Idaho. To help the NLF have funds for the new year, Brown said they decided to host their annual fundraiser in February.
A check is given to the NLF on the night of the chili feed.
Last year, the association raised more than $9,000.
The evening isn’t just a chili feed and auction, but is meant to be informative, as well as an evening of family fun.
Carol Scott, member of the Elko association, said they will be setting up another “kids corner” so children can be involved in the event.
“It’s a fun night for the family,” Brown said.
There is a slew of special guests attending the chili feed, including the executive director of the NLF, Ann Mills-Griffiths, coming from Arlington, Va.; Mark Stephensen, chairman of the NLF board of directors; western United States regional coordinators; the Nevada state coordinator, as well as members from other associations.
Brown said they will also speak about the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii.
JPAC is dedicated to finding missing Americans from past conflicts. The laboratory portion of JPAC is the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world. Services provided through JPAC help identify remains of missing soldiers.
The NLF was formed 42 years ago with the goal of bringing service members home.
“We have so many service members that have never come home, and unless they are brought home, their families don’t receive anything. People have been trying to bring this awareness to everyone, everywhere to get answers,” Scott said. “JPAC goes all over and they find the remains, bring them back and try to find out who they are and bring closure to their families.”
Brown said anyone who has a family member who was a POW going back as far as World War II can come to the local POW/ MIA association for guidance on how to submit DNA so their loved ones can be identified. These procedures will also be discussed during the chili feed.
Members of the association as well as the Red Lion make and donate the chili. Corn bread and rolls also will be served.
The association is still collecting donations for the auction. For information, call Betsy Brian at 934-9052.