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New POW-MIA kiosk opens at Vietnam Memorial

Friday - 9/21/2012, 5:46pm  ET

Vietnam Kiosk (WTOP/Max Smith)
Rolling Thunder board member Hal Koster attended the dedication ceremony of the new POW-MIA kiosk at the base of the Vietname Veterans Memorial. (WTOP/Max Smith)
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Veterans reflect on new kiosk

WTOP's Max Smith reports

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Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There's a new POW-MIA kiosk between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial nearly two years after the last one burned down.

The Washington chapter of Rolling Thunder, a group that honors and remembers Vietnam War service members, dedicated the kiosk Friday on National POW-MIA Recognition Day. The solar-powered kiosk was built by companies, including MidAtlantic Contracting and SolarWorld Industries America.

Rob Wilkins, a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant and Rolling Thunder member, spoke at the dedication ceremony.

"It's amazing," Wilkins says. "The first one burned down in 2010, and a bunch of companies have come together and donated their time, their services, their talents to put together this kiosk, which is open 24/7/365 days a year to recognize and honor the POWs and MIAs."

Rolling Thunder board member Hal Koster says there are about 1,700 service members missing from the Vietnam War, and the group sells bracelets engraved with the name of a POW or MIA service member.

"(The kiosk) allows us to continue our work," Koster says.

According to the Pentagon, there are 83,414 service members currently unaccounted for from World War II and recent conflicts. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is the only American POW from the Afghan conflict.

"We're here to remember them and their families and to make sure we never forget what they've done and who they are," Wilkins says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)