For Brian Galarza, memories of his brother’s return from the Vietnam War are a regular reminder of all those U.S. servicemembers who didn’t come home – and whose families were left to wonder what became of their loved ones.
A 21-year Army veteran and fleet service clerk for American Airlines at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Galarza decided to set up a POW-MIA table in the employee break room – a table that was eventually placed at Terminal 8, Gate 12, known as JFK’s “veterans gate.”
“I always said I was going to support the POWs/MIAs, the ones who never returned,” Galarza says. “So I took it upon myself when I started working at American (in 2016) to set up a table in our break room at the airport. Once I set that table up, people were questioning me about what it meant.”
Shortly afterward, airline management decided to move the table to a more prominent location. “It meant a lot as a veteran that (American Airlines) was supporting veterans,” he says.
Galarza, a 17-year Legionnaire, says he’s proud to be part of an organization that advocates for POWs, MIAs and their families. “It settles the minds of those families that we’re still out there looking for them,” he says. “It’s a voice to ensure that the (government) knows that POWs and MIAs are not forgotten.”
Branch of Service Army (1980-2001)
Rank Sergeant first class
Military job Infantry
American Legion post Daniel M. O’Connell Post 272, Rockaway Beach, N.Y.
Years in The Legion 17
Post vice commander (2018-present)