The chair will sit perpetually empty, a stark reminder of the 91,000 American soldiers unaccounted for since World War II and a place awaiting their eventual return home.
Two Staten Islanders are among those declared MIA: Staff Sgt. Kevin O’Brien's plane crashed in the dense jungles of the Khe San in South Vietnam in 1969, and Lt. Gerald Crosson's Phantom II Fighter was shot down in 1968 on a mission near Quang Khe, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam,
Members of Rolling Thunder Chapter 2, who donated the chair, rendered a stiff salute to the brothers they lost.
“We are in a business where we’re unaccustomed to folks not having a self-serving agenda or ego,” said BP Oddo. “The work that Rolling Thunder does across Staten Island is the direct opposite. It’s all about selflessness. They live it, talk the talk, walk the walk and that is a rarity.”
Rep. Rose, the recipient of a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan, recalled a time when veterans were not given a heroes’ welcome on their return home.
"“This chair is about us never forgetting those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
As the black drape was pulled down to reveal the chair, the veterans applauded and saluted once more.
“To be temporary stewards of this is a wonderful thing,” BP Oddo said.