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Families gather in Minnesota with hope of finding missing service members

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Over 200 military families from around the Midwest gathered in the Twin Cities on Saturday for an update on their missing loved ones, hoping for some closure.

Several times a year, the Department of Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office holds family events to detail the work being done to find missing military members.

Since World War II, a total of 83,281 U.S. service members are still missing, according to DPMO statistics. There are roughly 180 Minnesotans missing since the Korean War, KSTP reports. There is no state-by-state breakdown for the number of Minnesotans that went missing during World War II.

The DPMO has conducted these update programs since 1995, reaching more than 17,000 family members face-to-face, DPMO says. KSTP says the Department of Defense identifies roughly 80 to 90 missing service members every year.

That gives families hope that they'll get to bury their loved ones.

"I'm hopeful, I'm not necessarily optimistic after all these years, but the fact that the remains do keep getting found is a reason to hang in there," Pat Ridgely, who is from Minnesota, told KSTP. His uncle was a pilot who was shot down while flying his last mission in World War II.

Jerry Kvidera's uncle, William Kvidera, has been missing since Dec. 7, 1941. Jerry Kvidera's father, who is 86 years old, hopes to see his brother's body come home, FOX 9 reports.

“They have a tomb stone with grandma and grandpa and William in the middle. My dad is the last remaining sibling. He’s thinking about it more and more – to see his brother come home would be nice," Jerry Kvidera told FOX 9.

Family members who attend the briefing get a packet of information detailing what the DPMO knows about their missing loved one. The DPMO also collects DNA samples to help identify remains when they are found.

This was the first time they have been in Minnesota for a few years, KSTP says.

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