POW/MIA Flag History

POW/MIA Flag History – A look behind this iconic flag and its design. Do you know who created this flag and why?

pow/mia and american flag

Back in the 1970’s, Mrs. Michael Hoff realized the need for an international symbol for those missing from battle and those taken as prisoner. As a MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, Hoff recognized that the organization she was so fond of needed a flag.

After reading an article in the Times-Union newspaper, Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees and asked him to help with the flag. Rivkees was very sympathetic to the POW/MIA cause and quickly agreed. The flag design was approved by the League and POW/MIA flags were soon made and distributed all over the country.

William Graham Wilkin III created the original design. The flag is black and white and bears a symbol in the middle with an outline of a man’s head. Behind the head is a watch town with a guard on duty and a strand of barbed wire. The center emblem was designed by Newt Heisley. Under the emblem are the words, “You Are Not Forgotten,” and above “POW – MIA” is written with a single star in the middle.

pow/mia flag

On March 9, 1989, an official League flag actually flew over the White House in DC on National POW/MIA recognition Day. The flag was also installed in the US Capitol rotunda after being passed by Congress with overwhelming support.

However, it was not until 1990 that the League flag became official. On August 10, Congress passed a law that made the Leagues POW/MIA flag the national symbol for “commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoners, missing and unaccounted for.”

Credit: POW-MIA Families

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One Reply to “POW/MIA Flag History”

  1. “William Graham Wilkin III created the original design.” Wilkin claims to have done this Nov 1983. Is not correct. The original design for the flag was created by Newt Heisley in 1972. http://www.annin.com/about_powmia.asp See also https://m.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=520777051270493&_ft_ where in March 14, 1983 Ronald Reagan “On April 9, 1983, a P.O.W.-M.I.A. Flag will fly over the White House, the Departments of State and Defense, and the Veterans Administration as a symbol of our unswerving commitment to resolving the fate of all servicemen still missing.”
    I Believe this or somebody that believed his story went into Wikipedia on 16/Nov/2010 and placed in the line “William Graham Wilkin III created the original design.”

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