‘They never came home’

Air Force ROTC hosting event Saturday

Garrett Neese/ Daily Mining Gazette Steve Wercinski of Boston dishes up his plate at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4624 breakfast in Hubbell April 2 as Quartermaster Judy Chizek and Air Force ROTC Cadet 1st Lt. Ally Noles look on. The Robert LaMotte Squadron of Tech's Air Force Rotch participates in many events for the post, including this Saturday's POW/MIA Bridge Run.

HOUGHTON — A 5K walk/run at Michigan Technological University Saturday will raise awareness of prisoners of war and those missing in action, while also serving as a fundraiser for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Hubbell.

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps’ Arnold Air Society at Michigan Technological University organizes the annual POW/MIA Bridge Run, which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Donations and entry fees go to Hubbell VFW Post 4624, which puts funds towards things such as building improvements and activities benefiting veterans.

The ROTC’s connection with the post goes back decades. The ROTC’s squadron is named for Technical Sgt. Robert LaMotte, a World War II veteran from Lake Linden.

Squadron Leader Lilly Bolliger said this year the students are trying to get a broader community involvement in the race.

“We’re reaching out to businesses and local schools to see if we can get cross-country runners, just people who would like to walk it or participate,” she said. “This year we’re really anticipating a lot more than in years past.”

Participants include a detail with American and POW/MIA flags. There are still 72,000 POW or MIA unaccounted for going back to 1945, said Frank Ozanich, commander for Post 4624.

“They went away and they never came home,” he said. “There’s still families that wonder what happened to their loved ones, all around the country.”

Some are still getting their answers, decades later. Ontonagon Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell Valley, whose battleship was sunk at Pearl Harbor, was identified in 2018 and buried in Ontonagon.

“It’s for a good purpose,” Ozanich said. “And these young men and women are a bright spot on the horizon for the future.”

Saturday’s route goes from the ROTC building to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and back along the waterfront trail.

Same-day registration starts at 9:30 a.m. outside Tech’s ROTC building. People can also preregister by going to the MTU Air Force ROTC Det. 400 Facebook page and scanning the QR code on the event flyer.

The race is $20 to enter. The first 50 people to register also receive a free T-shirt.


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