In their honor: Cadets run to remember POWs, MIAs, victims of 9/11

Cadet 1st Class Connor Ference of Cadet Squadron 10 takes the baton to start his leg of five runners during the combined 9/11-POW/MIA Remembrance Run as it exits Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 13, 2012. The run ended at the Academy Terrazzo after 45 teams of five traversed the 45-mile journey past various locations in Colorado Springs. The end of the remembrance run signified the start of a 39-hour vigil run on the Terrazzo, commemorating 39 years since Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of POWs from the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Cadet 1st Class Connor Ference of Cadet Squadron 10 takes the baton to start his leg of five runners during the combined 9/11-POW/MIA Remembrance Run as it exits Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 13, 2012. The run ended at the Academy Terrazzo after 45 teams of five traversed the 45-mile journey past various locations in Colorado Springs. The end of the remembrance run signified the start of a 39-hour vigil run on the Terrazzo, commemorating 39 years since Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of POWs from the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force Academy and U.S. Northern Command Headquarters Airmen joined forces Sept. 13 to run in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks and service members who were prisoners of war or missing in action from past conflicts.

The run began at noon at the USNORTHCOM headquarters when Army Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, USNORTHCOM chief of staff, passed a hand-crafted baton to Cadet 1st Class Daniel Zotto, the Academy's cadet wing commander, and Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, the commandant of cadets.

"This is a great way for the Cadet Wing to honor the sacrifices of those who have gone before us," Lengyel said.

The run ended on the Academy Terrazzo after 45 teams of five traversed a 45-mile journey past various locations, including the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Tejon Street and Colorado College.

The end of the run signified the start of a 39-hour vigil run on the Terrazzo, commemorating 39 years since Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of POWs from the Vietnam War.

Lengyel remarked on the cadets' dedication, saying the run honors the thousands of Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and the thousands who have died in global conflict since that tragic day.

"The run honors the heroes who have served our nation under the most difficult of circumstances and to those still missing," Lengyel said. "I'm very proud that our next generation of Air Force officers have all raised their hands to serve during a time of war. It's an honor to be associated with such fine young men and women."