It has been 48 years since Sergeant Arlie Robert Mangus was listed as “Missing in Action” in Vietnam. However, his memory was commemorated yesterday during a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4843 in Pattonville.
Sergeant Mangus was a member of 329th Transportation Company, 5th Transportation Command (Terminal). On November 3, 1970, he was a passenger on Landing Craft Utility #63 that capsized 5 nautical miles south of Tan My port, South Vietnam. His remains were not recovered. He was 19 years old at that time. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu (Hawaii) Memorial.
VFW Commander Eric McMillen presented his sister, Wanita Mangus-Mechling, with a banner that was purchase by Post 4843 to be hung in his honor.
“It’s good that someone thinks about (those who are missing). We really appreciate it,” Wanita said with tears in her eyes. She said it was very traumatic as they waited, hoping to hear he was still alive, and having to come to grips that he will never return.
“It is well appreciated,” Wanita’s son, Logan Mechling, said of the banner tribute.
Armstrong County Veterans Affairs Executive Director Kathy Rashlich had a personal tie to the Mangus family.
“His mother was a member of my church, so I was aware of his POW/MIA status pretty much my whole life. It’s very touching and honoring to be here today and to have him recognized, as well as the family, for what they have gone through for almost 50 years,” Rashlich recalled.
A special POW/MIA ceremony was held. VFW Trustee Daryl Ray directed the attention of the crowd to a small table with place settings in honor of those who did not return.
“We are compelled to never forget that, while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain and interment. We call them comrades, and brothers and sisters. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families today. So we enjoin together to pay our humble tribute to them and bear witness to the continued absence.”
Ray explained that everything on the place setting on the table represented something.
“The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing men and women. The table is small, symbolizing the futility of the prisoner alone against his or her oppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives in responding to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice insure the freedom we love in the United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep their faith while awaiting their return and answers. The yellow ribbon on the base represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of thousands who demand the unyielding determination of the proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us today. A slice of lemon on the place reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us today. The chair is empty. They are not here. The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home away from their captors into the opening arms of a grateful nation.”
“We won’t forget him or the others,” Wanita said of her brother.