SALEM — Bend- area state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill to name U.S. Highway 26 in Oregon in honor of the state’s prisoners of war and those missing in action.

House Bill 3452 would call the 471-mile portion of the highway from the Pacific Coast to the Idaho border the “POW/MIA Memorial Highway.” In Central Oregon, the route passes through Madras and Prineville.

The designation would honor Oregon’s 789 POWs and 1,000 MIA. The missing have all been declared dead.

The House Committee on Rules unanimously approved the bill Wednesday and sent it to the full House. Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, are among the chief co-sponsors.

“It is important we recognize those who defend our freedoms every day,” Zika said in testimony Tuesday. “The motto is, ‘You are not forgotten.’”

The bill was requested by former Army Lt. Col. Dick ­Tobiason of the nonprofit Bend Heroes Foundation. The group will erect and maintain up to 10 signs along the route.

“This is the last of eight border-to-border veterans’ highways in Oregon,” Tobiason said Wednesday.

Tobiason said that since the Revolutionary War, a total of 355,000 Americans have been POWs, with 42,000 dying in captivity. Since World War I, some 86,500 Americans have been listed as MIA.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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