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Oregon State University students from the Air Force ROTC program gathered with family and friends in the Memorial Union quad Friday to honor Oregon military personnel who remain classified as Missing in Action.

The ceremony for Oregon MIAs was the first held as one of the observances of Veterans Day, which is Sunday, Nov. 11.

“It’s a beautiful ceremony,” said Lt. Col Andrew Poorman, the event’s keynote speaker. “Cadets here really honor their veterans.”

Poorman spoke of the code of conduct for American soldiers who are captured by the enemy (stating only name, rank, service number and date of birth). He addressed his comments primarily to the Air Force ROTC cadets standing before him in perfect columns.

“There is no one prouder of what you’re doing than another veteran out there,” Poorman said. “I appreciate what you’re doing. You’re the future of our Air Force and our future veterans.”

Poorman said that success in the service, according to one of the military’s core values, is about finding balance and managing commitments to deliver excellence in both their official tasks and in their conduct as individuals.

After Poorman’s speech, two cadets read aloud the 80 names of the Oregon soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War and are Missing in Action.

According to Cadet Derek Franco, Veteran’s Day Ceremony commander and a junior at OSU, some family members of soldiers missing in action attended the ceremony.

A 21-gun salute and a benediction came next.

“It means the same for everybody,” Franco said after the ceremony. “We’re not just honoring veterans today — a lot of people have given up their lives,” he said, referring to POWs and MIAs.

Franco said it was especially good for future Air Force members to hear the names of people lost in war.

As speakers addressed a crowd of listeners, a pair of cadets carried a black POW/MIA flag across the paved walkways of the quad as part of a 12-hour flag walk. A candle was also lit Friday in remembrance of those lost, and will continue to burn today.

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Joce DeWitt is the Higher Education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached at 541-758-9510 of joce.dewitt@lee.net.

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