Local elementary school students honor missing Vietnam veteran

Staff Sergeant Manuel Puentes was last seen in 1971 on a combat patrol in Vietnam and never returned home.

One man is working on making sure his brother's memory is never forgotten.

Staff Sergeant Manuel Puentes was last seen in 1971 on a combat patrol in Vietnam and never returned home.

He's considered missing in action.

Pawnee Elementary School honored him by dedicating a freedom tree.

And this week, the Puentes family will be one of three Nebraska gold star families to participate in the presentation of honor and remember flags.

Manuel's brother says it's nice to remember his brother but he still wishes he was here to celebrate.

"I'd rather have him standing right here in front of me, I'd rather see him alive than all this," Even though it's good, I appreceiate what they do but nothing can replace a life. I'd rather have him standing here next to me."

Below are public Omaha events to honor the military fallen.

Omaha – Thursday – A team of Nebraska runners will arrive in Omaha as part of the national Run for the Fallen a 6,000-mile, 121-day, 19-state cross country run that began April 7 in Fort Irwin, Calif., and will end August 5 in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Nebraska will host runners for 103 miles, from the Kansas state line (beginning June 5) to the Iowa state line (June 8) with stops in Falls City, Auburn, Nebraska City, and Omaha. Individual fallen military members will be honored at specific mile markers along the way by runners, to include public ceremonies at the end of each day. Runners will be supported by a caravan of seven vehicles. For information go to or

Along the route on June 7, the Nebraska running team will honor fallen military members during brief ceremonies at the following South Omaha’s locations:

3:09 p.m. Nettie’s Restaurant, 7110 Railroad Ave.

3:21 p.m. Joe Tess Restaurant, 5424 So. 24th St.

3:33 p.m. Burger King, 4313 So. 24th St.

3:45 p.m. Family Fare grocery store - 24TH & VINTON St.

4:30 p.m. A team of Nebraska runners and a caravan of seven vehicles (one RV decorated) are estimated to arrive

5 p.m. – Honor and remember flag presentation ceremony --three families (including the Puentes family) will be presented special flags in a public ceremony in the parking lot of Family Fare grocery store at 24TH & Vinton

Other public events/story opportunities:

Omaha – Friday, June 8:

7 a.m. Nebraska running team starts at Family Fare grocery store, 24th & Vinton

7:12 a.m. Veterans Memorial Bridge, 13th & Missouri Ave. Run continues in Atlantic, Iowa where Iowa running teams will take over

Omaha – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5K Honor and Remember Run/Walk - join Gold Star families to honor and remember fallen military members at Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion. Cost is $25 and includes a T-shirt. Register day of the event between 8 and 9 a.m. or go to and search for the event.

Omaha – Saturday at 7:05 p.m. – 8th Annual Omaha Storm Chasers Tribute to Fallen Heroes – event will begin at 6:40 p.m. by recognizing more than 200 families of the military fallen. Tickets for the Omaha Storm Chasers vs. the Albuquerque Isotopes game start at $9 and can be purchased through the Storm Chasers website or at the gate. Omaha Police Dept. Pipes & Drums and color guard lead Gold Star families onto the field, a 30’ x 60’ American flag opened on the field, paratroopers will jump from 12,000 feet into the stadium, flyover of a P-51 Mustang (WWII and Korean War fighter)

Waterloo – Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. – Three Riverside Lakes (2 blocks south of 228th and Dodge) public event to honor the fallen

9 to 10 a.m. Family Fun Run/Walk (register at 8 a.m.)

10 to 11 a.m. Ceremony -- George Lutz-Founder of Honor and remember Inc. and creator of the national Run for the Fallen. Performance of song written for Run for the Fallen by Bobby Figueroa of Nickerson, Neb. Presentation of four Honor and Sacrifice flags to four families who’s loved one died while in the line of duty as a Waterloo volunteer fire fighter and an Honor and Remember flag to the family of Seaman Frank Roubicek who died during World War II.

11 to 11:10 a.m. -- Planting and dedication of an Honor and Remember tree (for military fallen) and an Honor and Sacrifice tree (for first responder fallen)

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