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Vandenberg POW/MIA ceremony scheduled

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Space Wing is scheduled to host a ceremony in remembrance of American prisoner of war/missing in action servicemembers at 3 p.m. Sept. 16 at Vandenberg's POW/MIA Memorial here (located outside the Retiree Activity Center).

Col. Keith Balts, 30th SW vice commander, is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the ceremony.

From the Vietnam War alone, the families of more than 2,000 servicemembers are still searching for answers about why their loved ones never came home from the war.

"It is really important for us to set a day aside and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for a great country," said Master Sgt. Charles Shurchay, from the 14th Air Force.

Prior to the ceremony, a 24-hour "Reading of the Names" vigil will begin Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. Volunteers from the base will read the names from a list of servicemembers who were taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action.

"We are looking for volunteers to come out and support the vigil by reading the names of the nearly 83,000 known POW/MIA service members," said Master Sgt. Anthony Rincon, from the 381st Training Group. "If we don't get enough volunteers, not all of the names are going to be read during the vigil."

More than 100 Airmen are needed to make this event run smoothly. Currently, about 45 volunteers have signed up.

Volunteers will need to commit an hour of their time to be scheduled during the 24-hour period of the vigil. Fifteen minutes of that hour will be spent reading the names of servicemembers who were prisoners of war or missing in action.

Airmen can also volunteer to help setup or teardown before and after the event.

"This is truly a base undertaking; the base is pulling together to make this happen," said Shurchay. "We hope that there will be a large turnout from the local community, the local veterans groups and from Team Vandenberg."

Anyone interested in reading the names of POW/MIA servicemembers can call Master Sgt. Charles Shurchay at 606-1751, or Master Sgt. Anthony Rincon at 605-0600.