An annual 24-hour vigil will begin late Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 11, at the University of St. Thomas to honor Veterans Day and Americans who are, or were, prisoners of war or missing in action.

The vigil has been an annual tradition since 1987 for the university, its Air Force ROTC Detachment 410, and the campus chapter of Arnold Air Society, a professional and service organization.

An ROTC cadet left footprints in the snow during last year's vigil.

An ROTC cadet left footprints in the snow during last year's vigil.

This year’s vigil begins with an opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, near the flagpole in the center of the quadrangle on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus.  For the next 24 hours, ROTC cadets will slowly and silently march past the flagpole in remembrance of those who have served and those who never came home.

St. Thomas has had an Air Force ROTC detachment since 1948; the year after the Air Force was created.

Planned in conjunction with the vigil is a talk by Robert Clemens, of St. Paul, who will discuss his experiences as a B-17 navigator during World War II.

Clemens, a director and former president of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota, will speak at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11 (following the opening ceremony) in the first-floor auditorium, Room 126, in the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts, which is located just south of the quadrangle’s flag pole.

Clemens was 18 when he enlisted in the Army Air Force in November 1942. He served in the 15th Air Force’s 463rd Bomb Group and between June and September 1944 flew 50 missions to some of the toughest targets in Europe.

The talk, free and open to all, is sponsored by the Arnold Air Society.