Lehigh student fights for missing soldiers

The Morning Call

by Bryan Hay

Tuesday, September 5, 1989

The Arnold Air Society, a national Air Force ROTC service organization, wants to inform the public about military personnel missing in action in Southeast Asia.

And Lehigh University’s chapter, with the help of a 20-year old cadet, is working to achieve this goal.

Cadet Capt. Christian D. Malesic, POW / MIA special projects officer, was 6 years old in 1975 when Saigon fell. Malesic is a senior electrical engineering student at Lehigh.

His project is to coordinate the annual 24-hour event in which three people run continuously across the Fahy Bridge and back.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Sept 15. A roll call of the 116 Pennsylvania MIAs and an on-campus flag-raising will be held in conjunction with the run.

On Saturday afternoon, the runners will go over South Mountain to Murray Goodman Stadium where they will run around the track during halftime of the football game between Lehigh and the University of Massachusetts. Air Force cadets, Army Cadets, fraternities, veterans, administrators and the public are invited to participate.

The detachment’s long range goal is to raise $10,000, to make sure Lehigh Valley residents are “100 percent informed about the MIA / POW issue,” Malesic said. The money will be used to place public service advertisements on television and radio and on billboards.

The Arnold Air Society, an honorary organization named after pioneer aviator and Air Force General Henry “Hap” Arnold, who wants to get an estimated 25 million signatures needed to petition the Post Office for a POW/MIA commemorative stamp, Malesic said.

“We’re putting the work out,” he said, although the Air Force has not taken an official stance on the stamp issue. Malesic noted that 2,330 Americans are still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia and, “We want our soldiers buried on American soil, it’ll help if the public does something. Even a bumper sticker will help.

The Society’s effort has been bolstered by 114 Lehigh Valley veterans’ organizations. They are behind such other ideas as donating a POW / MIA flag to every flagpole owner in the area and placing newspaper advertisements featuring a mail-in coupon addressed to each state congressman.

“This is a very emotional issue. We feel if the public is aware of the situation, steps will be taken to help bring our people home,” said Malesic, who is from Harrisburg. “It only takes one person to really make a difference.”