Honorary POW-MIA chair unveiled in Diddle Arena

Former prisoner of war Sergeant Major Charles Ross (right) and Sergeant Jimmie Dixon, the president of Rolling Thunder, Inc. present the new POW-MIA seat in section 115 in Diddle Arena Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Bowling Green, Ky.

Elliott Pratt

Section 115 in Diddle Arena holds 117 seats. After Wednesday night’s Lady Topper basketball game against Texas-Arlington, there will be 118 seats, but the newest addition will never have anyone sit in it.

Rolling Thunder, Inc. has partnered with WKU to permanently install an honorary POW-MIA seat located at the top of section 115 under the American flag. The chair was unveiled during Wednesday night’s Lady Topper basketball game and again during the men’s game Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT against Texas Arlington.

Rolling Thunder, Inc. is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public on American POWs and MIAs from previous wars and to help protect and provide veterans from all wars.

Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Ross was a prisoner of war in North Korea from 1950-53. Ross will join Rolling Thunder Kentucky Chapter 2 from Glasgow and Chapter 3 from Bowling Green in unveiling the honorary chair in Diddle.

“I think it’s great that the university agreed to allow this because to me, it’s a symbolic chair that honors those who went through hardships and the sacrifices they went through,” Ross said. “I was a participant in the Korean war, and it’s been called the forgotten war. Anything they can do to help remember those people, which were my friends and buddies that didn’t make it back, I’m grateful for.”

WKU will be the first school in Kentucky to have designate a chair in honor of POWs and MIAs. President of Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 from Glasgow, Jimmie Dixon, said the universitie’s contribution to military service members is the main reason why they wanted WKU to be the first to unveil the chair.

“We really wanted to get Western into it because they have been so good with working with our veterans and this area for textbooks for troops and tuition reduction for our veterans,” Dixon said.

Stadiums across the country like Gillett Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, and the university of Toledo have already installed the honorary chairs. Associate athletic director of marketing, Lindsay Boyden, said the university plans to add a seat to more venues on campus.

Action is already in place to install a chair to be unveiled Smith Stadium near gate one when the Toppers host Army in the fall.

“We formally do not have a plan yet for other venues, but it will be in our plan, we’re just taking it one thing at a time,” Boyden said. “We decided that it was something we definitely wanted to do. It doesn’t take a ton of money but it was something we thought was right and something people really don’t thing about.

“Obviously no one ever sits in it. It’s meant to just remind people that there are people missing in action still, and it’s just a way to honor that thought.”