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Camp Pendleton ceremony honors the thousands of POW/MIA service members

Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 21:15:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A special ceremony was held at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton on Friday, honoring missing in action (MIA) service members and prisoners of war (POA).

Loved ones, veterans, and active duty service members gathered at the base, participating in a moment of silence and watching as a wreath was laid in honor of the missing.

"I had a father-in-law, Ernesto Castillo, captured by the Japanese in 1942," said Vicki Miller, who works at the Naval Hospital.

For 26 years Miller made it her mission to honor service members like her father-in-law, organizing the ceremony each year on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

"They were very cruel, they took out his teeth, pulled his fingernails and toenails out, starved him, made him walk that 76-mile walk on Baaton Death March," said Miller.

Miller says while her father-in-law survived, he lived the rest of his life with guilt.

She adds that families still waiting for answers endure another type of torture.

"Keep praying for those families that are still waiting and wondering for answers," said Miller.

More than 81,000 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts.