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Pentagon honors MIAs and POWs

The Pentagon on Friday paid tribute to those members of the U.S. military who are classified as Missing in Action (MIA) and Prisoners of War (POW).

About 200 people watched as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Marine Gen. Peter Pace escorted Patricia Scharf, widow of Col. Charles Scharf, onto the Parade Field outside the Pentagon. 

Scharf's husband was an Air Force pilot who went missing-in-action during the Vietnam War and whose remains were recently identified by taking DNA from love letters he sent her more than 40 years ago.

Gates spoke first, paying tribute to the four U.S. Army soldiers who are currently missing in Iraq. "They will never be forgotten or left behind," he said, adding that they are "the latest edition to the ranks of those we honor today."  He only spoke for about five minutes, thanking the families and then introducing Pace, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pace also spoke briefly, saying of the prisoners of war that "few have been called to sacrifice the way our POWs have been." 

Then Scharf walked to the podium and described how her husband's remains were only recently identified by taking DNA off of the love letters he sent her.  

Among those in the crowd were Keith and Carolyn Maupin, parents of missing soldier Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin. 

Also attending from the Pentagon were Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway.