CWU AFROTC holds Veterans Day vigil

Evan Couch, News Editor

Senior Cadets of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) started their rotational shifts of a 24 hour vigil for Veterans Day starting at midnight on Nov. 11.

Senior cadets from the AFROTC took shifts standing guard in front of a memorial outside of Lind Hall. According to AFROTC Senior Cadet Sophia Apostolides, the vigil and the memorial are a tribute to American prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) personnel. 

“The vigil is a reminder and a way to honor all the prisoners of war and missing in action airmen and soldiers and marines that have come before us,” Apostolides said. “It’s a way for us to honor, especially everyone here in Ellensburg and the Kittitas Valley community.” 

Along with the memorial, an information table with photos, plaques and other items involving POW and MIA soldiers was displayed. 

Apostolides said there are several AFROTC members who have become POW and MIA that have come out of CWU. Apostolides said those circumstances make holding a vigil like this more meaningful to her.

“It’s very meaningful and [special to those] families that are connected to those prisoners of war and missing in action that still come talk to us and talk to our program,” Apostolides said.

Apostolides said CWU has some scholarships under the names of some of the cadets from the program who are POW’s or MIA. One of these scholarships is the Captain Patrick Welch Memorial Scholarship for the AFROTC program. 

Captain Welch graduated from CWU in 1975 with a degree in Geography and awaited his assignment for flight school. Welch lost his life during his sixth overseas mission in a military exercise plane crash in Egypt in 1980.   

Senior Cadet Joshua Beddall said this is just one way they are able to honor those who came before them.

“It’s not particularly easy to just stand perfectly still,” Beddall said. “It feels like we can do something to honor the people who [were in] the service before us.”

Apostolides also said that the program holding vigils like this means a lot to the surrounding community as well as the AFROTC.

“We have really good ties and connections with Ellensburg American Legion, the Kittitas Valley Veterans Association and the Ellensburg Veterans of Foreign War,” Apostolides said. “Having those connections and being able to talk to the people that have come before us and our service members means a lot to them, and it means a huge deal to us.”

Beddall also said that holding a vigil like this is important for more than just members of the program at CWU. He said Veterans Day is a special day for sharing stories.

“I think people stop thinking about the past,” Beddall said. “This is a good opportunity, a reminder to go talk to somebody, go listen to somebody’s story because they need that.”