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Team V honors POW, MIA servicemembers with remembrance ceremonies

Vandenberg Airmen run during the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action 24-hour run, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The POW/MIA run commemorates the men and women of the armed forces who gave immense sacrifices while in service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

Vandenberg Airmen run during the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action 24-hour run, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The POW/MIA run commemorates the men and women of the armed forces who gave immense sacrifices while in service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

Vandenberg Airmen read Prisoner of War and Missing in Action names during a POW/MIA vigil name reading, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, more than 1,700 Americans are still unaccounted from the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

Vandenberg Airmen read Prisoner of War and Missing in Action names during a POW/MIA vigil name reading, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The event commenced with a 31-hour vigil, followed by a motorcycle ride-in of the POW/MIA flag to the base track where a handoff of the flag started a 24-hour remembrance run and culminated with a ceremony in front of Vandenberg’s POW/MIA memorial. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

The Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club and the American Legion transport the U.S. flag and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag during a POW/MIA kick-off ceremony, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The POW/MIA flag is a symbol to remember U.S. military personnel taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

The Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club and the American Legion transport the U.S. flag and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag during a POW/MIA opening ceremony, Sept. 17, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The POW/MIA flag is a symbol of remembrance of U.S. military personnel taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Members of Team V held a series of events for the National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day, here, Sept. 17 through 18.

The event commenced with a 31-hour vigil, followed by a motorcycle ride-in of the POW/MIA flag to the base track where a handoff of the flag started a 24-hour remembrance run and culminated with a ceremony in front of Vandenberg's POW/MIA memorial.

"POW/MIA Recognition Day takes place on the third Friday in September, it's a nationally mandated day," said Master Sgt. Daniel Cable, 614th Air and Space Operations Center unified space vault flight chief. "We set aside the entire day to recognize more than 83,000 members currently unaccounted for and to honor their families as well."

Honoring all those who are still unaccounted for is a sentiment expressed by many, for a variety of reasons.

"For me personally, I'm a third-generation military member," said a Master Sgt. named Larry, Detachment 1, 544th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group superintendent. "My grandfather served in World War II, landed on Normandy Beach and survived that fateful day. I don't have any POW or MIA family members, but I am very passionate about it because of the military background throughout my family. I want to make it a great success to honor all those who are still unaccounted for."

Military personnel remain focused in their unwavering pursuit of bringing those missing servicemembers back to their loved ones.

"They paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, and until we have a full and complete accounting for our personnel, we will continue searching," said Larry. "Our Airman's Creed states that we will never leave an Airman behind, but we take that creed one step further during POW/MIA Recognition Day. That is the whole purpose of this effort."

For event coordinators, the occasion's success can be attributed to the numerous Team V volunteers.

"I just appreciate the wing leadership's support," said Cable. "All of these events could not go on or take place without the volunteer force, and it's a significant volunteer force. Vandenberg does a lot of great events for the base and local communities, and I think this is one of the most important that we honor each year."

While the number of those still unaccounted for is perplexing, maintaining faith in their return isn't as difficult.

"When you look at that number - 83,000 - it's almost hard to comprehend that," said Cable. "But when you open that binder and read the list of names at the vigil, or when you're continuing to turn those laps overnight when it's foggy or midday when it's hot, it makes it all worth it. Those names bring realism to the fact that, somewhere out there someone is still waiting for their loved one to return."