Press Page and Photos

AMG Comment: America has lost a national hero for whom, despite differences in latter years of his time as Special Envoy, I had great respect and admiration. He supported the POW/MIA accounting mission in ways very few people really knew and, fortunately for the League and all the POW/MIA families, League Senior Policy Advisor Richard T. Childress served under him at Ft. Carson, Colorado, and knew him well. Their friendship was at the center of President Reagan’s appointment as his POW/MIA Envoy, publicly announced in 1987. Childress and I were both an integral part of his initial trip to Hanoi referenced above, and all the plans and preparations that went into that endeavor. We will always owe a debt of gratitude to General Vessey and his devoted wife Avis. God Bless them, Ann

Ann Mills-Griffiths
Chairman & CEO
National League of POW/MIA Families

http://www.nytimes.com/…/john-w-vessey-jr-who-was-chairman-…

Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, left, and Sgt. Maj. Lee Gil-ho of South Korea viewing a painting of Gen. John W. Vessey Jr. Credit Master Sgt. Terrence L. Hayes/United States Army

 John W. Vessey Jr., Who Was Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Dies at 94 – The New York Times

Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., a soldier’s soldier who lied about his age to enlist in the service, won his commission on a battlefield in World War II and became a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Reagan administration, died Thursday night at his home in North Oaks, Minn. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by his daughter, Sarah Vessey Krawczyk.

When his military career was finally over in 1985 — after the wars and killing, the medals and promotions, the White House meetings on defense and nuclear strategies, and the 46 years that had made him the nation’s longest-serving active soldier — General Vessey did not quietly fade away.

Instead, in retirement, he went back to Vietnam repeatedly, as a special envoy of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton, to find out what had happened to the hundreds of Americans listed as prisoners of war or missing in action since 1975, when North Vietnam defeated United States-backed South Vietnam.

The fate of the P.O.W./M.I.A.s has been one of the most divisive and troubling legacies of the war.

General Vessey’s breakthrough talks with Hanoi in 1988 led to on-the-ground searches by Pentagon teams that uncovered the remains of about 900 American military personnel over the next two decades, and to official conclusions that no American prisoners were still being held in Vietnam, though hundreds of cases remain unresolved, a source of continuing political controversy and grief for families.

Far from a West Point or Annapolis man, the future general was a Minneapolis high school boy, not quite 17, when he slipped past recruiters (minimum age was 18) and joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1939. His Army infantry unit was activated in 1941, months before America’s entry into World War II.

By 1943, he was a first sergeant fighting in North Africa. His unit took a strategic hill in the American drive to seize the Tunisian port of Bizerte. Allied victories there and at Tunis proved critical to the defeat of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa.

A year later, as American troops clung to the Italian beachhead at Anzio in some of the war’s bloodiest fighting, the sergeant and two other noncoms in his unit won battlefield commissions as second lieutenants. They were dispatched as forward observers; within days one was dead and the other seriously wounded.

After the war, he served in Germany, a Cold War hot spot, and in Korea, though not during the Korean War.

He next saw action in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He was wounded and won a Distinguished Service Cross for defending a firebase that was partly overrun by Vietcong, the Communist insurgents in the south. The invaders were so close that he and his men had to depress their howitzer barrels and fire point blank into the onrushing enemy ranks.

General Vessey, then retired, at the dedication of a World War II memorial in St. Paul in 2007. Credit Jim Mone/Associated Press

After assignments in Europe and Southeast Asia and at the Pentagon, where he was in charge of operations and plans, he won his fourth star in 1976.

For three years he commanded American forces in South Korea. There, amid threats from North Korea, he persuaded President Jimmy Carter not to withdraw American ground forces from the peninsula.

General Vessey was a surprise choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 1982. Plain-spoken, he had none of the polish of former chairmen, and unlike most of them he had never been a service chief. He had mostly been a combat officer, out of Washington’s limelight. But he was regarded as a leader of proven courage and integrity who inspired confidence. He was also an old-fashioned patriot, and Reagan liked him.

The general oversaw enormous growth in military spending and global military presence to counteract Soviet expansion. He deployed missiles in Europe and maintained strength in Southeast Asia, but was leery of military interventions in Central America. He directed a Caribbean operation to rescue Americans at risk in Grenada, but opposed using American troops in a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Those troops were withdrawn after a 1983 truck-bomb attack in Beirut killed 241 Marines and Army soldiers.

General Vessey improved interservice cooperation, defense budget analyses and military planning. In 1983, he suggested to Reagan that weapons in space might be used in the future for defense against Soviet missiles. The president seized on the idea and proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, the space-based system called “Star Wars.” It was never fully developed, although it led to better antimissile systems.

The general was entitled to wear seven rows of battle decorations and campaign ribbons, but kept most of them in a drawer. On Memorial Days, instead of riding in staff cars, he marched to Arlington National Cemetery to pray at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He disliked jargon; to him, “restoring peace on favorable terms” meant winning the war. He rarely gave news conferences or interviews, and avoided the spotlight.

“We have had a lot of famous generals who have been in the public eye, and I think rightly so — MacArthur, Eisenhower, Bradley,” he told The New York Times in 1984 as he approached retirement. “I am not in that category. They don’t need to see me. What they want me to do is to make sure that the armed forces of the United States are as effective as we can make them.”

John William Vessey Jr. was born in Minneapolis on June 29, 1922, to John and Emily Roche Vessey. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1940. He earned his first college degree, a bachelor of science from the University of Maryland, when he was 41 and a lieutenant colonel. He later received a master’s degree from George Washington University. When he graduated from helicopter school at 48, his classmates were young enough to be his children.

In 1945, he married Avis Claire Funk, who died last year. In addition to his daughter, General Vessey is survived by two sons, John W. 3rd and David; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

He was active in the Lutheran Church and once considered a career as a minister.

For his post-retirement efforts in Vietnam on behalf of American prisoners of war and those missing in action, General Vessey received from President Bush the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1992.

Niraj Chokshi, Jack Begg and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

 

POW-MIA families’ meeting overshadowed by departure of DPAA leader

By Dianna Cahn

Stars and Stripes
Published: June 23, 2016

ARLINGTON, Va. — It’s been a decades-long journey fraught with political and emotional fissures for the families gathered this week at the Hilton Crystal City to get the annual update on loved ones who went missing during the Vietnam War.

They have faced hits and misses in excavations, lost records and bureaucratic setbacks along the way.

On Thursday, as the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia held its annual meeting, they listened as officials promised to remain committed in the face of another obstacle: the sudden resignation last week of the director of the new agency charged with recovering the missing.

Michael Linnington announced Friday that he was leaving the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to become chief executive officer at the beleaguered veterans charity Wounded Warrior Project.

“Today’s presentation had to be revised extensively due to the completely unexpected resignation of Mike Linnington,” began Richard Childress, senior policy advisor for the league, who spoke Thursday morning in Arlington.

Childress said that while Linnington had a successful first year in merging three government entities into one functional agency, in the decades-long quest for full accounting, he will go down in history as “a shooting star that appeared briefly.”

“I wish Mike well in his new, much less challenging post,” he said to a silent room rapt with attention. “But his sudden departure has set the issue back once again, especially given his previous stance that this was an abiding priority for him.”

Childress also told the crowd about a historic opportunity for recovery in the opening of relations with Vietnam and Laos, and the promotions of key figures in both countries. He expressed frustration that President Barack Obama’s administration has been vague in its addressing of new initiatives, even after visit to Vietnam last month. And he warned that without a comprehensive agreement with the Vietnamese — to share information, databases and archives along with excavation efforts — full accounting won’t be achieved.

More than 83,000 Americans are still unaccounted for since World War II, and a priority has been placed on recovering the remains of 1,618 prisoners of war and missing from Vietnam.

Childress said the league has maintained strong pressure on the government to keep those missing in Vietnam as the priority.

“The opportunity is now, right now,” said the longtime league CEO Ann Mills-Griffiths. “I totally agree with him.”

Mills-Griffiths acknowledged that she has been seen as a lightning rod with her outspoken and unrelenting pressure, but noted that her ability to act without a chain of command has given her power to force the hand of government officials and to obtain documents from the Vietnamese after years of denials that they existed.

“I don’t care if they think I am easy to get along with,” she said. “I am fair and honest.”

The audience applauded politely for a speech from Daniel Kritenbrink, a top Asian affairs policy adviser to Obama, who described the president’s trip to Vietnam and upcoming trip to Laos, but failed to get into specifics about agreements on the accounting of war remains.

Keynote speaker Peter Levine, the DOD undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, acknowledged that there have been failings in the government’s efforts to recover its war missing, but vowed that the efforts would not stop.

“I know that too often we fail to meet your hopes, our expectations and our goals,” Levine said. “But I will say that no nation has invested as much effort as us in search and retrieval of fallen service personnel from battlefields around the world.”

Levine, who was standing in for Defense Secretary Robert Work, drew resounding applause when he affirmed commitment to the mission.

“What we have to remember is our fallen heroes did not quit and they gave up their tomorrow so we could have today. So we cannot quit until we see a tomorrow in which all of our fallen can return home.”

Speaking to the group early Thursday afternoon, Linnington said he did not make the decision to leave easily but after 35 years in uniform, he felt passionate about helping sick and injured servicemembers after going to war with them. He also believed he was leaving DPAA in a good place, with more work to do but on the right path.

“I want to let everyone here know that was a not a decision I made easily,” he said.

Linnington said when he took over, DPAA was a year old, had identified just nine remains, had a too-small budget with Congress threatening to shrink it if the pace of action didn’t increase and was not fully operational. Since then, he said DPAA has identified over 100 remains in the first six months of 2016 and has obtained budgetary commitment through 2016 and a promise to keep Vietnam’s unaccounted-for as the priority through 2017.

He reassured the families that while the agency had stepped up efforts to recover World War II and Korea remains, it had sustained the pace of investigations and recovery for Vietnam and had invested 74 percent of its resources — about $34 million out of $44 million, he said —  and more than 50 percent of its investigative and recovery teams to Vietnam.

There are still things that need to be done, he said, including hiring knowledgeable and experienced people and streamlining case management by making case files available to families in real time. That project had hit a snag with the Defense Department over privacy issues, he said.

“We are a different agency today than we were a year ago,” he said.  “So I am optimistic about the way ahead and I certainly would not have entertained any offer for employments from somebody else if I didn’t think the road ahead was pretty clear.”

cahn.dianna@stripes.com
Twitter: @DiannaCahn

Special Announcement

In response to an announcement distributed June 16th, by Mike Linnington, Director, DPAA, The National League of Families released the following statement:

“Almost exactly a year ago, at our 46th Annual Meeting, DPAA Director Mike Linnington gave the families and veterans his word that he would be with this mission ‘for the long term, at least ten years.’”  His unexpected resignation came as a shocking reversal.  Emails and calls since the announcement expressed understandable frustration and anger, but we’ve been through many disappointments since 1992 and know the long-serving dedicated civilians have been the core of accounting efforts for years.  We trust them to continue as they have, in the interest of all.  This latest episode will bring greater, even more unified determination to move forward, on that you can rely.”

Ann Mills-Griffiths, Chairman of the Board & CEO

Mr. Linnington’s announcement:

Dear friends of DPAA:

In the past year, we have made remarkable progress in the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and its great mission. From how we research/investigate/recover and identify our missing and unaccounted for from our nation’s past wars, to how we communicate with the families.  And just as important, is increased communications/accountability of our efforts to Congress, our stakeholder community, and the American people.  I feel confident that we now have the right people, processes and procedures in place so DPAA has irreversible momentum with the gains we have made for even greater success.

I was recently approached by a large non-profit that serves our military community also deserving of our nation’s every effort — our wounded warriors and their caregivers.  I have been blessed with a lifetime of responding to where I am needed, and have decided to accept their offer to lead their important mission during a period of significant transition.  As I depart DPAA in early July, I will do so most grateful for the dedication of all those that assist our accounting mission, and for those that perform it on behalf of our grateful nation:  the families of our missing/unaccounted for, our work force, and supporters of our mission worldwide.

DPAA and its mission benefits from the superb leadership of two highly-skilled, and capable deputies (Mrs. Fern Winbush and BG Mark Spindler), and they will maintain the focus and direction of the agency until a new director is chosen.  In early July, Mrs. Fern Winbush will assume duties as Acting Director in the interim period.    As I transition to supporting our military and veteran community through the hard work of a nonprofit, please know my family and I have been truly blessed to get to know each of you, and work together on such an important mission.  My time with you will remain with me for the rest of my life.  For the Veterans and Military Service organizations, I look forward to engaging with many of you (and your organizations) as I learn more about the work of leading a national nonprofit.

All of us owe our every effort in supporting the entire military community; active duty, Reserve, Guard, Coast Guard, their families, and their survivors.  It is not just an issue of national security, but a moral obligation.  Thanks for what you do each and every day, and thanks for your efforts on behalf of the families of our missing and unaccounted for.

Sincerely, and with great respect and appreciation,

 

Michael S. Linnington

Director, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Arlington, VA  22204      (703) 699-1101

 

Lao New Year

April 30th, 20016

Fern Amb  WifeAnn Lao dancers 4-30-2016

Sumpter-Winbush - Amb. Saravong - AMG 4-30-16 Lao Embassy                        Lao Dancers

Mrs. Fern Sumpter-Winbush, Principal Director, DPAA

Mrs. Sayavongs, wife of the Ambassador

Ms. Ann Mills-Griffiths

 H.E. Mai Sayavongs

Spirit of the Elbe ceremony

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency 

John Kerry calls vet’s search for MIAs in Laos a ‘most important’ mission

In 1984, Bill Gadoury joined the U.S. Embassy in Laos with the task of finding U.S. airmen who are missing in action
His team has identified the remains of 271 airmen, but 302 are still unaccounted for

Vientiane, Laos (CNN)For 45 years, Bill Gadoury has been looking for answers.

During the Vietnam War, Gadoury served for a year in Thailand and then moved to Laos to help brief commanders about pilots and crew members who never returned from their missions. In 1984, he joined the U.S. Embassy in Laos with the task of finding U.S. airmen who are missing in action.

On Monday, he was recognized by Secretary of State John Kerry, also a Vietnam War veteran, for dedicating his life to searching for the remains of U.S. servicemen who were never recovered.

Today he leads three teams, 58 people all, looking for remains — a much smaller contingent than is looking for those MIA in Vietnam. It is painstaking work excavating wartime crash sites, often in dangerous terrain, before identifying and repatriating remains back to the U.S.

Gadoury last saw Kerry 24 years ago when he testified before the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, which Kerry used to co-chair along with Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was himself a prisoner of war during Vietnam. The panel was convened under President George H.W. Bush to investigate the fate of U.S. service personnel listed as missing in action.

“He was our link to possibilities and to realities,” Kerry said of Gadoury when the two men met again Monday in a hotel in Laos.

Kerry and Gadoury reminisced about their time flying over Laos in 1992 looking for remains during Kerry’s first fact finding trip to the Southeast Asian nation.

An airman left behind for 45 years, but not forgotten

READ: Family’s anguish in 45-year search for MIA pilot

“You remember flying around in that Russian helicopter, holding your breath every second in the air,” Kerry recalled. He recollected that landing on a rice paddy was “beautiful and haunting. You could sort of feel a firefight around the corner.”

Gadoury said that environment “gives you the sense of the terrain that we had to deal with back during the war, and what we were up against.” And he noted, “It’s the same terrain that we’re still up against now as we’re going back to try to locate and recover people.”

A few seconds of quiet passed, with neither man saying a word, before they talked about the ongoing efforts and what work remained.

Having identified the remains of 271 airmen, Gadoury said his team has 302 still unaccounted for, with solid leads on about half of those cases. He has 75 cases identified for excavation.

With the easier sites in Laos examined, his teams have now moved into the mountains, where the terrain and weather make their job even more difficult.

Gadoury hopes that within the next 10 to 15 years he can complete the mission and account for all of those lost.

“Like World War II, I think in the end there’s going to be those cases that we just aren’t able to locate. There are no witnesses,” Gadoury acknowledged. “But we’ll do our best, like we’ve been trying so hard to do over the years.”

Kerry called the effort the “largest, most comprehensive, most enduring examination of what happened to people in war in the history of warfare.”

“I’m as proud of this as anything I’ve been engaged in,” Kerry said. “No country has ever done what we did. I don’t know of any other nation in the world that goes to the lengths we go in active duty, military people digging at active sites, pulling up the remains of a C-130, or helicopter, or something, in order to complete the mission.”

Kerry’s visit to Laos, only the second by a U.S. secretary of state since John Foster Dulles in 1955, is part of an effort by the Obama administration to normalize relations with the nation after decades of postwar estrangement and mistrust.

READ: Obama to push to clear leftover Vietnam-era bombs

In addition to programs in health education and energy, the U.S. has been steadily increasing its funding to help Laos eliminate an estimated 75 million unexploded cluster bombs remaining from the U.S. bombing campaign during the Vietnam war.

Ahead of his landmark visit to Laos this fall for the ASEAN summit, President Barack Obama is preparing to launch a major initiative to help Laos solve the unexploded ordnance problem once and for all, senior administration officials told CNN.

The budding relationship between the U.S. and Laos and the growing U.S. investment in the country seems to be paying off.

Gadoury said Monday that the Laotian government has become increasingly more cooperative on the MIA issue, asking U.S. officials to visit local sites like schools and clinics where remains are through to be located.

“The people in those areas understand that we’re helping them and in return we hope that they will help us,” Gadoury said.

At a separate session with embassy employees and their families, Kerry singled out the work of Gadoury and his team as “heroic.”

“I would say that probably 99% of Americans don’t know that they’re here doing what they’re doing, but for a lot of Americans, this is one of the most important missions in the world because they’re still missing their loved ones and they don’t have closure,” Kerry said. “And people deserve and want closure. War has terrible, lingering scars, and where you have an ability to be able to address them, we should.”

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/25/politics/john-kerry-mias-laos/

 

 

Two Wisconsin sailors who died on USS Oklahoma identified

Members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency march alongside a disinterred casket holding the remains of unknown USS Oklahoma service members during a disinterment ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on Nov. 5.

U.S. Air Force

Members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency march alongside a disinterred casket holding the remains of unknown USS Oklahoma service members during a disinterment ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on Nov. 5.

Struck by three torpedoes at the start of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Oklahoma quickly began to capsize and within a dozen minutes had turned into a death trap for hundreds of men.

Crew members who happened to have luck on their side clambered aboard the nearby USS Maryland to return fire and escape the wreckage enveloped in flames and black smoke as six more torpedoes slammed into the Oklahoma. Hundreds were trapped below, some tapping on the hull until rescue crews could cut through.

But by the time help arrived, only a handful were pulled alive from the ship.

The rest remained entombed in the Oklahoma for more than a year until salvage crews managed to right the battleship and remove the skeletal remains of sailors and Marines. Out of more than 1,300 serving aboard the USS Oklahoma, 429 men were killed or listed as missing, second only to the USS Arizona in the greatest loss of life that day.

Many could not be identified and were buried in graves in Hawaii, their headstones marked as “unknown.” In the years since the Pearl Harbor attack, only 35 were identified.

That is until the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began to disinter remains recently as technological advances made it possible to identify remains of U.S. service members killed more than seven decades ago.

Dec. 10, 2015

Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Billy D. Hill, 21, of Wichita, Kan., will be buried Dec. 17, in Killeen, Texas. Hill was assigned to the 282nd Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade, as a gunner on a UH-1D helicopter. On Jan. 21, 1968, the helicopter he was in with five other soldiers was struck by enemy fire and crashed near Khe Sahn, Vietnam. One of the two crew members who survived the crash stated he believed Hill was struck by enemy fire just prior to the crash. Hill was declared missing in action following the crash.

On April 8, 1968, soldiers searched the crash site area and recovered the remains of two of the soldiers of the helicopter. The remains of Hill and one other soldier remained unrecovered. On Dec. 12, 1975, a military review board amended Hill’s status to deceased.

Between 1993 and 2014, seven investigations were conducted regarding the whereabouts of Hill, but no remains were attributed to him.

In 2014, members of DPAA’s predecessor organization, the Joint Personnel Accounting Command, reanalyzed unknown remains returned from Vietnam during a unilateral turnover in 1989, which were reportedly recovered in the vicinity of Khe Sahn.

To identify Hill’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and two types of DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two cousins, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA and autosomal DNA analysis, which matched his father.

The support from the government of Vietnam was vital to the success of this recovery mission.

Today there are more than 1,600 American service members that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.

 

 

A participant in the Bataan Memorial Death March carries a prisoners of war and missing in action flag along the course at the White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

A participant in the Bataan Memorial Death March carries a prisoners of war and missing in action flag along the course at the White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

 

 

 

Sybil Stockdale

http://ecoronado.com/news/2015/10/12/sybil-bailey-stockdale-1

924-2015/

Sybil Bailey Stockdale (1924-2015)

Sybil Bailey Stockdale, the driving force behind the national movement to end the torture and mistreatment of American POW’s in Vietnam and insure that they were able to return home with honor, and wife of Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, has passed away at the age of 90.

2015/10/12

Sybil Elizabeth Bailey was born to Sidney and Lucretia Bailey at their family home in East Haven, Connecticut on November 25, 1924. As a young girl, Sybil learned the value of hard work helping at the Bailey Dairy operated by her father and uncle. But she was happiest during the summer months swimming and boating in nearby Branford at the family cottage on Long Island Sound. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College (Sybil believed that her all-woman college education honed her leadership skills) Sybil taught at St. Catharine’s School in Richmond, VA, a private school for girls. It was there on a blind date in the spring of 1946 that she first met and fell in love with Jim Stockdale, then a Midshipman at the U.S. Navy Academy. Sybil and Jim were married in the Congregational Church in North Branford, CT on June 28, 1947.

So began Sybil’s life as a Navy wife, a role that from the very beginning she was determined to make successful despite its many challenges. Jim entered Navy flight school in Pensacola, Florida in 1948 and quickly moved up the ranks of naval aviation. In 1957 they moved to California and while Jim was stationed at Moffett Field in Palo Alto, Sybil received her Master’s degree in education from Stanford University. By 1962 Sybil was the mother of four boys and living in Coronado, California. Jim was off on carrier duty as the commander of attack squadron VF-51 and CAG 21 which was centrally involved in the Tonkin Gulf incident which led to US military involvement in the Vietnam War.

Soon after Jim’s plane was shot down in September 1965 and he became a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, wives of other POW and MIA servicemen began gathering at the Stockdale home in Coronado for mutual support and, what Navy wives do so well; have some fun. Alone and overwhelmed by events, Sybil initially respected the policy of the government which called for the wives to remain quiet about the POW ordeal. She had her sons to care for but needed a diversion from the horrible circumstances, so she began teaching in a local junior high school in San Ysidro. Many of her students “ran the border” daily from Tijuana to attend school with the popular Mrs. Stockdale.

Within a year it became apparent to the wives that the POWs were being brutally mistreated and even tortured and our government appeared powerless to act. Sybil pushed the POW/MIA wives’ group to organize formally and together they founded the League of American Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. They elected Sybil their first National Coordinator, and so began Sybil’s many trips and eventual move to Washington, DC. The League sought to convince members of Congress and the Administration that they should abandon their “keep quiet” policy, publically acknowledge the torture and mistreatment of American POWs, and pressure North Vietnam to abide by the Geneva Convention.

During the remainder of the Vietnam War Sybil worked tirelessly on behalf of the POWs and their families. Following the election of 1968, the new administration did finally publically acknowledge and condemn the treatment of those held in North Vietnam. Both Sybil and the League became regular participants in discussions about prisoner issues at the highest levels of government and she met regularly with President Nixon and Henry Kissinger. She appeared on national television many times and she and her organization became the voice of prisoner recognition and hope. At the same time Sybil worked closely with the CIA to write secretly encoded letters to Jim. In 1972 Sybil travelled with other League members to the Paris Peace Talks where they confronted the Vietnamese delegates on the treatment of American prisoners. As the result of her determination and courage, prisoner treatment improved and eventually the POWs were released in February, 1973.

Following Jim’s return, Sybil’s personal resolve and the loyalty she demonstrated to our country on behalf of the POWs and MIAs was recognized by the chief of naval operations who presented her the U.S. Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award. She is the only wife of an active-duty naval officer ever to be so honored. In part that citation reads:

By her courageous and determined actions, Mrs. Stockdale performed an outstanding public and humanitarian service for captured and missing military members of all services, their families and the American people. Her actions and her indomitable spirit in the face of many adversities contributed immeasurably to the successful safe return of American prisoners, gave hope, support and solace to their families in a time of need and reflected the finest traditions of the Naval service and of the United States of America.

Sybil’s unrelenting drive to heighten public awareness of the POW/MIA issue and insure their safe return with honor, while at the same remaining loyal to the mission of the military, made her a legend among military families and others who recognized her heroism. In 1984 Sybil co-authored In Love and War with her husband which describes their ordeal during the Vietnam era. Her story is still considered “required reading” for young military wives.

Sybil loved her years working as a “Pink Lady” at Stanford University Hospital in the late 1980’s while Jim was at the Hoover Institution. Her papers and memoirs from the Vietnam era, all meticulously written in long hand on yellow legal pads, reside at the Hoover library today. In 1992 Vice Admiral James B Stockdale was the vice-presidential candidate for the Independent Party with Ross Perot and they received 19% of the popular vote. In 1995 Sybil and Jim Stockdale retired to Coronado, CA where they remained active in local community affairs. A core group of the original POW/MIA wives still met monthly at Sybil’s home until her passing, and passers-by must have wondered at the raucous laughter coming from within the Stockdale home. In spite of severe Parkinson’s, Sybil’s famous sense of humor never failed to surface. She inspired, entertained, loved and was loved by thousands.

Sybil Stockdale was predeceased by her husband Jim in 2005 and her son, Stanford Stockdale, in 2014. She leaves behind three sons; Jim Stockdale of Beaver, PA; Sid Stockdale of Albuquerque, NM; and Taylor Stockdale of Claremont, CA. They, along with their daughter’s-in-law and eight grandchildren, adored their “Mumsie” and are thankful for her caretakers, especially Evelyn Beltran, who made her last days and years graceful and honorable. A memorial service will be held for Sybil in Coronado, CA and she will be buried beside Jim on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

A community-wide service will take place on Saturday, Nov. 14th at 2pm in Spreckels Park.

The flags throughout the City of Coronado have been lowered to half-staff because of the death of Sybil Stockdale, Coronado resident and wife of former Vietnam POW and Vice Presidential candidate Admiral James Stockdale.  

POW/MIA Flag to Fly at San Jose City Hall Year Round

Some veterans in the South Bay are claiming victory after spending months fighting to have a special symbol displayed at San Jose City Hall year round.

Starting in September, city hall will fly a flag honoring soldiers who are prisoners of war or missing in action. For years the POW/MIA flag was flown only on certain days.

“It looks very nice,” United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County President Francis McVey said of the flag set to fly at city hall. “Been a long time coming and we’re pleased to see it.”

San Jose City Hall currently flies the United States flag, the California flag and the city flag. A fourth flag that changes for special ceremonies also is up at San Jose City Hall.

McVey and other veterans have spent the last few months working to convince city officials to allow the POW/MIA flag to fly beneath the American flag at city hall.

The city listened and responded. Councilwoman Rose Herrera, also a veteran, was in favor of the proposal.

“This puts it front and center on our mind 365 days a year,” Herrera said. Because those who served did not do it one or two days, five times annually. It’s 365 days.”

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/POWMIA-Flag-to-Fly-at-San-Jose-City-Hall-Year-Round-323023971.html

 

Chairman Ann Mills-Griffiths response to Perlstein article published in Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/pow-mia-flag-veterans-racist-362508

Former VN POW Lee Ellis responding to the Perlstein opinion piece:  http://video.foxnews.com/v/4418472237001/former-pow-slams-writer-who-claims-flag-is-racist/?#sp=show-clips

 

Release Date: 8/5/2015 7:04:00 PM  By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elliott Fabrizio, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affiars

Washington (NNS) — Adm. John M. Richardson, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, was confirmed by the Senate as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) August 05, 2015

Richardson will replace Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert who has been CNO since September 2011. Vice Adm. Frank Caldwell, who was also confirmed by the Senate today, will succeed Richardson later this month as the director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

“I am honored and humbled to have been nominated and confirmed to succeed Adm. Greenert as our Navy’s next Chief of Naval Operations,” said Richardson. “Adm. Greenert and his wife Darleen have been tireless and superb advocates for our Sailors and their families. I am deeply grateful for their service to our Navy and nation. I am excited to lead the extraordinary men and women in the world’s greatest Navy.”

The change of office ceremony will be held in September at the United States Naval Academy.

Richardson, 55, hails from Petersburg, Virginia. He graduated with a degree in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. in 1982. Richardson also holds Masters Degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the National War College.

As one of the Navy’s top leaders, Richardson has a broad-based record as an operational commander. Richardson commanded the nuclear attack submarine USS Honolulu (SSN 718), served as a naval aide to the President of the United States, as well as numerous other assignments through his career. Richardson received the prestigious Vice Adm. James Stockdale for inspirational leadership award in 2001, among a long list of personal and unit awards.

For biography on Adm. Richardson visit www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=440.

The Quest

The first issue of the DPAA’s Newsletter:

The Quest Summer Edition 2015

Remarks by the President to the VFW National Convention

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/21/remarks-president-vfw-national-convention

David Lawrence Convention Center Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

7/21/15

“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the second end of the — or the end of the Second World War, I want to offer a special salute to all of our World War II veterans. (Applause.) As communities across our country continue to mark 50 years since the Vietnam War, we say once more, welcome to all our Vietnam vets. (Applause.) As I think you heard this morning, we have a new POW/MIA agency, new leadership. We’re building stronger partnerships with veterans’ groups like the VFW. Because bringing home Americans taken prisoner or who’ve gone missing is a sacred mission, and we are stepping up our efforts for all wars, to never leave a fallen comrade behind — ever.”   President Barack Obama, VFW  National Convention, Pittsburgh, PA

 

 

July 21, 2015

Announcement from the Director of DPAA:

I would like to announce BG Mark Spindler as our next Deputy Director for DPAA, replacing Maj Gen Kelly McKeague later this summer. Gen Spindler comes to us from the U.S. Army Military Police School in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where he served as the 47th Commandant and Commanding General. He was responsible for training and leader development of Military Policemen world-wide. A decorated leader, he led a Combat Support Battalion in Kosovo and a Combat Support Brigade in Iraq in addition to holding key positions in Europe, the Pentagon, and the Joint Staff.
I’m pleased to welcome Mark, his wife Ellen, and their four children to the DPAA team, and I look forward to his arrival in late August.

Mr. Michael S. Linnington, SES
Director
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Brigadier General Mark Spindler assumed duties as the 47th Commandant of the United States Army Military Police School and Chief of the Military Police Regiment in June of 2013.
Brigadier General Spindler hails from St. Louis Missouri, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Military Police Corps and Regular Army of the United States from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In the course of his career, he has earned advanced degrees from Central Michigan University and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Washington DC.
Brigadier General Spindler has commanded Soldiers and Civilians from Platoon through Brigade level in both the United States and abroad. He has served in four overseas tours in the European Area of Operation, as well as multiple tours of duty in the Pentagon and the Military District of Washington. His operational assignments include: peace enforcement operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a Battalion Operations Officer; Stability Operations in Kosovo as a combat support Battalion Commander; and combat operations in Baghdad Iraq as a combat support Brigade Commander. Brigadier General Spindler has also served in key staff positions on both the Army Staff as a Personnel Specialist, and the Joint Staff as a Strategist in the design and development of the National Military Strategy. As Commandant of Military Police, Brigadier General Spindler is responsible for the doctrinal and training development of military police competencies in law enforcement, combat support operations, detention operations, criminal investigations, and forensics / biometric strategy.
In addition to his individual awards and decorations, Brigadier General has been awarded the Army Superior and Meritorious Unit Awards for Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guardian, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

 

 

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington

Honolulu Star Advertiser                                                                                                                       

StarAdvertiser.com

Head of POW/MIA effort optimistic

A retired general says the reorganized team will be able to ID 200 dead in a single year

By William Cole

POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 15, 2015

The new head of the Pentagon agency that recovers missing American war dead said he expects to make at least 200 identifications annually — a number that would fulfill an overdue mandate set by Congress.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, last week visited Hawaii, where about 500 of the agency’s research, investigation and identification personnel are based.

Linnington said he would “push all of our folks.” He added that the new effort “starts with research, it goes through investigation, it goes to recovery, it goes to the (identification) lab. It goes to all of it.

“I frankly think we can do many more than 200″ identifications annually, Linnington said, referring not to the remainder of this fiscal year, but in the “near term.”

Congress mandated in 2009 that the Pentagon have the capacity to identify up to 200 MIAs a year by fiscal 2015. But the Defense Department identified only 70 sets of remains in 2013, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted in 2014 as part of a pledge to reform an inefficient system.

The POW/MIA effort, conducted by a handful of agencies around the country, was fragmented, overlapped and hampered by interagency disputes, a July 2013 Government Accountability Office report said.

In January the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii — known as JPAC — was merged with the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office in Washington, D.C., and some functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory in Ohio, to create the single Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The lab at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam identified 87 individuals in fiscal 2014, according to an internal report. So far this fiscal year, which has 21⁄2 months left and has been dominated by reorganization and change, 42 identifications have been made, the DPAA said.

Linnington, former military deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, in January was named an “adviser” to the MIA effort. In June he was selected as director of the DPAA.

Linnington made an overnight stop in Hawaii last week to meet with DPAA staffers. He said he still is in the “assessment phase” following the Pentagon shake-up.

“Whenever you go through a (reorganization) and you move responsibilities from one office to another, that’s always challenging,” he said in an interview.

The Pentagon announced in April that it was ordering the exhumation of 388 sailors and Marines from the USS Okla­homa who were buried as “unknowns” at Punchbowl cemetery following the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor, so they could be identified and returned to families.

The former JPAC sought to disinter the Okla­­homa remains in 2013 to help it meet the benchmark of 200 annual identifications. The exhumations began in June and may be followed by the exhumation at Punchbowl of “unknowns” from other Pearl Harbor ships and other World War II conflicts.

Linnington also expects to have contracts or agreements in place by this time next year with private research and field organizations to help with the MIA effort. More than 83,000 Americans remain missing from past wars. Of those, between 25,000 and 35,000 are believed to be recoverable.

History Flight Inc., a Florida nonprofit, recently announced it had recovered the remains of at least three dozen Marines killed in the 1943 Tarawa battle in the Central Pacific, including 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., one of four recipients of the Medal of Honor from the battle.

DPAA personnel at Hickam are expected to confirm or complete the identities of the Marines.

Linnington said Tom Holland, longtime scientific director at JPAC’s lab, will now lead the Washington, D.C.-based effort of building partnerships with outside organizations and even other governments to facilitate the recovery of American MIAs.

A new $85 million DPAA lab at Hickam championed by the late U.S. Sen. Dan Ino­uye will be dedicated July 27. Hawaii, meanwhile, will become the “Asia division” of MIA efforts, including World War II, Linnington said.

How the Hawaii efforts will dovetail with other regions is still being formulated, Linnington said. “We’re working through the specifics of that now,” he said.

Copyright (c) Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

July 07, 2015

United States – Vietnam Joint Vision Statement

At the invitation of the Administration of President Barack Obama, His Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), paid a historic visit to the United States, the first by a CPV’s General Secretary.  On this occasion, which included a meeting between President Barack Obama and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the White House on July 7, 2015, the United States and Vietnam adopted this Joint Vision Statement.

The United States and Vietnam recognize the positive and substantive developments in many areas of cooperation over the past 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, particularly the growth in economic and trade cooperation, cooperation in addressing war legacy issues as well as in science and technology, education, healthcare, environment, response to climate change, defense, security, human rights, and increasing regional and international cooperation on issues of mutual concern.

The United States and Vietnam have made numerous significant accomplishments since the formation of the United States – Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in 2013.  In particular, there has been continued rapid growth in bilateral trade and investment; the entry into force of the “123” Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; Vietnam’s endorsement of the Proliferation Security Initiative’s Statement of Interdiction Principles; the easing of U.S. restriction of arms sales; the signing of the Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations; and increased cooperation on regional and multilateral issues. The first-ever dialogues and exchanges between entities associated with the Communist Party of Vietnam on the one hand and institutes associated with the Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States on the other also took place, as envisaged by the 2013 Comprehensive Partnership.

The achievements in United States – Vietnam relations are possible thanks to constructive joint efforts to rise above the past, overcome differences, and promote shared interests looking toward the future.

Vision for United States – Vietnam Relations:  Deepening a Long-Term Partnership

Looking toward the future of bilateral relations and building on the Comprehensive Partnership, both countries affirm their continued pursuit of a deepened, sustained, and substantive relationship on the basis of respect for the United Nations Charter, international law, and each other’s political systems, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.  The two sides are committed to maximizing shared interests and cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels, for the benefit of both peoples, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in the Asia – Pacific region and the world.

Strengthening political and diplomatic relations, increasing exchanges at high levels, and expanding bilateral consultations to continue to build trust and improve cooperation remain priorities for both the United States and Vietnam, as are enhancing economic, trade, and investment cooperation and deepening cooperation in science and technology, education, training, health, environment, and law enforcement.  The two countries recognize the success of the Vietnamese community in the United States and their many contributions both to the development of the United States and Vietnam and to better United States – Vietnam bilateral relations.

The United States and Vietnam reaffirm continued bilateral cooperation in defense and security, as outlined in the United States – Vietnam Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations.  Both countries underscore their commitment to collaborating on, among other issues, addressing non-traditional security threats, cooperation in maritime security, maritime domain awareness, defense trade and information sharing, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and defense technology exchange.  Both countries welcome joint efforts to address war legacy issues, including the humanitarian mission of missing in action (MIA) recovery, the clearance of unexploded ordinance and dioxin remediation, and further assistance for these humanitarian efforts.

The United States and Vietnam expect to work in close coordination with the other negotiating parties to conclude the ambitious and comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as soon as possible and to carry out whatever reforms may be necessary to meet the high standards of the TPP agreement, including as necessary with respect to commitments relating to the 1998 ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.  Both countries are committed to a high-quality, balanced TPP agreement that meets the interests of all parties and creates a new long-lasting, mutually beneficial framework for economic and trade cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, while providing a new impetus for regional economic cooperation and contributing to cooperation and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.  The United States applauds Vietnam’s progress in economic reforms and affirms continued support for and constructive engagement with Vietnam, and the United States notes Vietnam’s interest in pursuing market economy country status.

Both countries pledge continued support for the promotion and protection of human rights and support the maintenance of positive, frank, and constructive dialogue on human rights to improve mutual understanding, and reduce differences.  They encourage further cooperation to ensure that everyone, including members of vulnerable groups, regardless of their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and including persons with disabilities, enjoy fully their human rights.  The United States welcomes Vietnam’s ongoing efforts to harmonize its laws with its 2013 Constitution and international commitments, which Vietnam undertakes for its comprehensive development, including the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The United States welcomes Vietnam’s ratification of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the two countries look forward to technical cooperation in this regard.

The United States and Vietnam expect to accelerate education cooperation, including through institutions like Fulbright University Vietnam and other university partnerships and in the areas of English language collaboration.  The promotion of people-to-people exchanges remains important.  Both countries expect to consider visa facilitation measures to encourage greater numbers of tourists, students, and business visitors to both countries, and call for relevant U.S. and Vietnamese agencies to conclude as soon as possible a bilateral agreement on the construction of new compounds of their representative missions, including their embassies.

Increasing Cooperation on Global and Regional Issues

The United States welcomes Vietnam’s active international integration policy, and Vietnam welcomes the United States’ policy of enhanced cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region.  Each country commends the other’s contribution to supporting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region and the world over.  The United States and Vietnam are also committed to strengthening cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest and concern.

The two countries are committed to promoting cooperation on sustainable development, addressing traditional and non-traditional security threats, including natural disasters, wildlife trafficking, water security, and pandemics. The two countries are committed to expanding collaboration on peacekeeping operations and climate change and look forward to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit and to concrete national actions to promote nuclear security.  The two countries pledge to expand cooperation on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), including toward achieving the GHSA targets as soon as possible.

The United States and Vietnam are committed to enhancing cooperation in regional fora, such as the Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, Lower Mekong Initiative, and the East Asia Summit, and recognize the importance of a united and strong ASEAN, ASEAN’s central role in the regional political and security architecture, and the United States – ASEAN Strategic Partnership.

Both countries are concerned about recent developments in the South China Sea that have increased tensions, eroded trust, and threatened to undermine peace, security, and stability.  They recognize the imperative of upholding the internationally-recognized freedoms of navigation and overflight; unimpeded lawful commerce, maritime security and safety; refraining from actions that raise tensions; ensuring that all actions and activities taken comply with international law; and rejecting coercion, intimidation, and the use or threat of force.  Both countries support the peaceful resolution of disputes in conformity with international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (UNCLOS), and recognize the importance of fully implementing the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety, as well as efforts to conclude the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Agreements and Arrangements Reached

The following agreements and arrangements foster development of United States – Vietnam bilateral relations and form the firm foundation upon which both countries’ future cooperation will continue to build, such as:

–    Agreement between the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Government of the United States of America for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion and with Respect to Taxes on Income;
–    The Memorandum of Understanding on Between the Ministry of National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Department of Defense of the United States of America on United Nations Peacekeeping Cooperation;
–    The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam and the United States Agency for International Development regarding the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program the Global Health Security Agenda;
–    The Vietnam Aviation Safety Technical Assistance Project Agreement between the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam; and
–    Vietnam’s granting of the license for the new Fulbright University Vietnam.

 

Carter: Vietnam War, Veterans Taught Important Lessons

By Karen Parrish
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 – As the United States and Vietnam mend and strengthen relations, a congressional ceremony here today commemorated a time 50 years ago when the two nations parted ways.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke during the event at Emancipation Hall, addressing congressional leaders and members from both sides of the House and Senate aisles.

Carter’s remarks credited Vietnam veterans with helping the nation recognize and learn the lessons that divisive war taught.

“We honor our 7.2 million living Vietnam-era veterans, their fallen comrades-in-arms, and the families of all who served,” he said. Some of the surviving veterans bear the wounds of war or the wear of age, he added.

While many of those veterans and many families still carry the memories of brothers, sisters, fathers and others who never came home, Carter said, their service has helped to strengthen the nation and its military.

“One of the reasons the United States has excelled is that, as a nation, we learn and innovate,” the secretary said. “And one reason why we have the finest fighting force the world has ever known is that our military is a learning organization.”

Important Lessons Learned

Carter told those assembled that while some of the lessons the Vietnam War taught America were “difficult to swallow,” all have resulted in a better country and a better military.

Two of those lessons, he said, are particularly important.

“First, we leave no one behind,” Carter said, noting other nations share that ethos.

“But there are few that have such a steadfast and sustained commitment. … Thanks in part to Vietnam-era veterans, the Department of Defense has over 650 people devoted to accounting for the missing and searching for, recovering and identifying their remains, including the more than 1,627 still missing from the Vietnam War,” the secretary added.

The second lesson is that the nation must support its warriors, he said, “regardless of our feelings about the war.”

“Unfortunately,” Carter told the audience, “that was a lesson some learned the hard way in the Vietnam era.”

The secretary noted that Vietnam veterans have shown distinctive honor and comradeship to their fellow service members fighting more recent wars.

“I am pleased by … the support for today’s veterans and service members, including the post-9/11 GI Bill, and how our troops today are welcomed home,” he said. “And I want to take this opportunity to thank you, our Vietnam-era veterans, for that lesson, and to again welcome all of you home.”

Carter also spoke about Chuck Hagel, his predecessor as defense secretary, who followed him in remarks at today’s ceremony.

“Chuck Hagel was a soldier, he’s been a senator and a distinguished secretary of defense, and he remains one of our most thoughtful statesmen,” Carter said. “And I’m proud to have been able to call him a friend for many years.”

As a sergeant in Vietnam, Carter related, Hagel led an infantry squad in fighting that followed the Tet Offensive.

“Stories of his bravery and sacrifice there are well known,” the secretary said. “And throughout the rest of his life in public service, Chuck dedicated himself to those who served, to normalizing and improving relations with Vietnam, to bringing home those still missing, and to ensuring we remember the Vietnam War’s lessons.”

2015: Year of Anniversaries, New Agreements

Carter noted that while today’s ceremony honored the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam Service Ribbon, created by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Executive Order 11231, this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

Carter visited Vietnam for official meetings on his latest Asia-Pacific tour in May and June. On June 1 in Hanoi, he and Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh signed a joint vision statement for the two nations’ bilateral defense relationship.

Defense officials said at the time that during his visit, Carter “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region, reiterating the United States’ support for a regional architecture that allows all countries in the Asia-Pacific to rise and prosper.”

State-Level Agreement

President Barack Obama and Vietnamese General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong met yesterday at the White House and adopted a national-level joint vision statement.

That document noted “positive and substantive developments in many areas of cooperation over the past 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

The statement acknowledges growth in economic and trade efforts; addressing war legacy issues; and cooperation in science and technology, education, health care, environment and response to climate change, defense, security, human rights, “and increasing regional and international cooperation on issues of mutual concern.”

The statement notes “continued rapid growth in bilateral trade and investment; the entry into force of the ‘123’ Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; Vietnam’s endorsement of the Proliferation Security Initiative’s Statement of Interdiction Principles; the easing of U.S. restriction of arms sales; the signing of the Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations; and increased cooperation on regional and multilateral issues.”

U.S. Role in Vietnam: War on Many Fronts

In American history, “Vietnam War” and “Age of Protest” are two enduring phrases about an era of stark social unrest: political, generational, racial and philosophical tides divided along lines etched by changing attitudes toward civil rights, love and marriage, civic duty and economic systems.

America’s involvement in the war peaked from 1965 to 1975. U.S. troops sent to fight in Vietnam in those years often found themselves on the front lines of not only Southeast Asia, but also the ideological struggle back home.

More than 2 million American service members assigned worldwide during that era were conscripted, or enlisted without choice, under the then-active draft system, which applied to men 18 to 26. The draft offered various exemptions for education and other factors, which partially fueled the era’s rising tensions between “haves” and “have-nots.”

Meanwhile, many American citizens who opposed the war turned against service members returning from Vietnam — who were frequently shunned, openly insulted or even physically attacked.

Long, Drawn-Out Conflict

The conflict in Vietnam, beginning in the 1940s, involved many nations and may be viewed historically as an outgrowth of World War II. U.S. participation in the war is dated variously, but official sources set America’s role as occurring primarily between 1954 and 1975, involving five separate presidential administrations.

More than 58,000 U.S. troops died in the Vietnam War. U.S. troop commitments to the conflict increased sharply after 1964, peaking at more than a half million in 1968. (emphasis added)

Photos from the League’s 46th Annual Meeting

Photo Credit:  Gary Anthes

Missing Man Table46th Annual Meeting Missing Man Table

                                                                46th Annual Meeting Sgts at Arms at the Fort Myer Twilight Tattoo

                                             Sgt’s at Arms at the Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myer

46th Annual Meeting Candlelight Ceremony

Candlelight Ceremony

 

 

 

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Linnington has been selected to be the Director, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths:
This announcement just came from DASD Rene Bardorf’s office to all non-government organizations that are participants in the DPAA Conference calls every other week. In my view, he is the right man, in the right job (as of this Monday, June 22nd, at the right time, and sorely needed. He has the character, humility, principles and dedication to serving our Nation and this mission that will earn the respect and trust of the POW/MIA accounting workforce and the families. He will need our prayers and positive thoughts moving forward.

We may finally have the LEADER long sought and a person who is committed to the longer term, not moving on to another military assignment nor using the POW/MIA mission as a stepping stone. Just wanted you all to know immediately, and see you next week. It should be a very interesting meeting, and most informative.
Best to all, Ann

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Linnington has been selected to be the Director, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. General Linnington previously served as military deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He was also an advisor involved in all aspects of standing up the new agency. He is passionate about this mission, understands its vital importance, and is really excited to start in this new role.
This will be a seamless transition. General Linnington has been included in nearly all of the actions taken to date on the stand-up of the new organization and he is ready to go. He will be starting in his new role in the next couple weeks.

 

The Memo from the Deputy Secretary of Defense regarding the Disinterment of Unknowns from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific:

Memo Dep Sec Def-Disinterment of Unknowns_4-14-15

April 14, 2015
DOD Announces Decision to Disinter USS Oklahoma Unaccounted For Service Members

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today that the remains of up to 388 unaccounted for sailors and Marines, associated with the USS Oklahoma, will be exhumed later this year. Upon disinterment, the remains will be transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory in Hawaii for examination. Analysis of all available evidence indicates that most USS Oklahoma crew members can be identified upon disinterment.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work approved the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma and also established a broader DoD policy, which defines threshold criteria for disinterment of unknowns.
“The secretary of defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one’s remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect and care,” said Work. “While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible.”
The disinterment policy applies to all unidentified remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and other permanent American military cemeteries. However, this policy does not extend to those sailor and Marines lost at sea or to remains entombed in U.S. Navy vessels serving as national memorials.
The threshold criteria includes research, family reference samples to compare DNA, obtaining medical and dental records of the missing service members, and having the scientific ability and capacity to identify the remains in a timely manner. To disinter cases of commingled remains, the department must estimate the ability to identify at least 60 percent of the individuals associated with a group. A likelihood of at least 50 percent identification must be attained for individual unknowns.
“The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is prepared to begin this solemn undertaking in concert with ongoing worldwide recovery missions. Personally, I am most privileged to be part of this honorable mission, and I very much appreciate the efforts of many people who saw this revised disinterment policy come to fruition,” said Rear Adm. Mike Franken, DPAA acting director.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the USS Oklahoma sank when it was hit by torpedoes, during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. A total of 429 sailors and Marines were killed. In the years immediately following the attacks, 35 crew members were positively identified and buried.
From June 1942 to May 1944, during salvage operations, the remaining service members’ remains were removed from the ship and initially interred as unknowns, in Nuuanu and Halawa cemeteries in Hawaii. In 1947 all remains in those cemeteries were disinterred for attempted identification. Twenty-seven unknowns from the USS Oklahoma were proposed for identification based on dental comparisons, but all proposed identifications were disapproved.
By 1950, all unidentified remains associated with the ship were re-interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as the Punchbowl.
In 2003, the DoD laboratory in Hawaii, disinterred one casket containing USS Oklahoma remains based on historical evidence provided by Ray Emory, a Pearl Harbor survivor. The evidence helped establish the identification of five servicemen; however, the casket contained the remains of up to 100 men who have not yet been identified.
Analysis of remains will begin immediately after their arrival into the DPAA laboratory and will utilize current forensic tools and techniques, to include DNA testing. Service members who are identified will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Navy and Marine Corps casualty offices began notifying the next-of-kin this morning.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call 703-699-1420.

 

**********************************************************************************************************************

 

The following is taken from “LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES OF THE JEWISH WAR VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” as presented to a joint Session of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs’ Committees, March 18, 2015.

POW-MIA

“JWV continues to strongly support the need for this country to account for all the missing POW-MIA individuals. There are still 1,636 personnel listed by the Department of Defense as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

On December 11, 2014, JWV was one of the signers of a letter sent to then Secretary of Defense Hagel spelling out serious concerns over lost momentum and lack of confidence in the ongoing reorganization effort. Transparency was sorely needed.

Since that time, senior DoD officials have pledged that the reign of secrecy is over, full transparency would prevail and a working partnership with the National League of Families and Military Service Organizations (VSO’s) will be formed.

JWV remains committed to supporting the National League of POW-MIA Families in general and our dear friend, Ann Mills-Griffiths, Chairwoman of the National League of POW-MIA Families, in particular, to gain a full accounting of those still missing.”

The League deeply appreciates the strong support that JWV continues to provide, and has for decades.  Please distribute this to your friends and colleagues, Members of Congress, city, county and state-level officials as well.

 

********************************************************************************************************************

POW flag donated to Coal City library | Morris Daily Herald 

POW flag donated to Coal City library

Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 9:31 p.m. CDT

Leah Bill, assistant director at the Coal City Library; Jolene Franciskovich. director; intern Trenton Johnson; St. Juvin Post Adjutant Keith Roseland; library communications coordinator Dixie Wiley; and Dana Abraham with adult services at the library display the a POW/MIA flag given to the library.

COAL CITY – St. Juvin Post 1336 Veterans of Foreign Wars presented a prisoner of war/ missing in action flag to the Coal City Public Library District earlier this month.

The Post distributes several POW/MIA flags each year to commemorate those who have not returned from service to their country.

The presentation to the library on March 12 was made by Post Adjutant Keith Roseland.

“The POW/MIA flag was created by the National League of Families to draw attention to the POW/MIA issue during the Vietnam War,” Post Commander Charlie Brown said in the release.

Although the flag is best known for its association with the Vietnam War, it has come to symbolize all U.S. POW/MIAs from all wars.

The search for U.S. MIAs continues today in Vietnam, Korea, Europe and all across the globe, according to the release.

Surprisingly, these efforts are still turning up the remains of MIAs who number more than 1,700 from the Vietnam War and 7,200 from the Korean War, while World War II still has about 72,000 MIAs, about half of whom are considered “recoverable” based on their last known or presumed location.

The POW/MIA flag is displayed directly below the U.S. flag when on the same halyard or at an elevation below that of the U.S. flag if on a different pole and follows the same general flag etiquette as that afforded to the U.S. flag.

 

Hudson Reporter – Remembering a Vietnam War POW and Bayonne resident

Remembering a Vietnam War POW and Bayonne resident
Hudson Reporter
Apr 01, 2015 

To the Editor:

Douglas Lee O’Neill Remembrance Day. The date was April 5, 1972, in South Vietnam, Douglas Lee O’Neill the pilot and four other crewmen were on a standard resupply mission flying between Da Nang and Quang Tri City when their helicopter was shot down. It has been 43 years since we last heard from Douglas. He’s the only service member from Hudson County listed as a POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. This is an annual vigil sponsored by The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 151, but is open to all veterans from Hudson County. Over the past few years support for the POW/MIA issue has dwindled and kept alive by the veterans’ organizations. In the past few years we have seen fewer and fewer POW/MIA flags flying on our public buildings, schools, homes, and at Bayonne Medical Center. We need to turn this around and bring that support back to the forefront so that the people of our county do not forget “When one American soldier is not worth the effort to be found, we as Americans have lost.” This is our job, our mission. As a nation, we have always looked to our servicemen and women as examples of courage and sacrifice. On April 4 we honor and remember one of our own, Douglas O’Neill. Douglas was a graduate of Bayonne High School, class of 1967. We invite all who knew Douglas either through school, family, friends, and all our brothers and sisters from all our local veterans’ posts, to join us in remembering Douglas and praying for the day when he comes home, but let us also not forget all our brothers who went off to war and never came home, who are also listed as POW/MIA. For it is the not knowing that hurts the most. We all wait for that day when we can welcome them home. On Saturday, April 4, join us at the Douglas L. O’Neill POW/MIA Remembrance Tree on 39th street and the Boulevard in Bayonne in whatever way you can between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Maybe through our thoughts and prayers we can bring final closure to the O’Neill family and to us veterans of the Vietnam War who have been waiting to welcome our brother Douglas home: Douglas Lee O’Neill; W3/US Army; Headquarters & /Headquarters Detachment, 37th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade; born August 3, 1948 (Teaneck N.J.; home, Bayonne N.J.; lost April, 3, 1972, South Vietnam; MIA).

MIKE WILSON

Secretary Vietnam Veterans of America North Jersey Chapter 151

Read more: Hudson Reporter – Remembering a Vietnam War POW and Bayonne resident

Boonton woman looking for MIAs, unexploded bombs in Laos

U.S. Army Spc. Laura Gutbrod of Boonton is on a 35-day mission to southern Laos, part of a 20-person team looking for unexploded ordinance and any evidence of MIAs from the Vietnam War.

Her Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team is going over the same terrain U.S. forces bombed or traversed 50 years ago.

“Even finding one piece of tiny bone means something,” Gutbrod said in a telephone interview with the Daily Record.

American remains are transferred to an official laboratory in Hawaii for identification by forensic anthropologists, according to the DPAA, which was activated Jan. 30 and dispatches 23 such teams at sites all over the world where Americans have fought and fallen.

“They run a DNA test,” Gutbrod explained. “Once they find a match, they’re able to cross that person’s name off an MIA list, and call the family, because that person is considered found. That way, the family knows their family member passed away.”

She called the work rewarding and an example of the military pledge to leave no soldier behind.

“It’s something that I never expected I’d be able to do in a place I never expected to be,” said Gutbrod, who is stationed with the 25th Infantry Division at the Schofield Barracks in Honolulu.

Until April 9, however, her team, and two others, are sharing a makeshift 60-tent base camp at 9,000 feet, some two hours outside the city of Pakse and 17 miles away from the recovery site they’re working. Each day, she said, they fly by helicopter into the mountains and land at about 18,000 feet, after which they hike down 3,000 feet to the site.

The hiking is intense, she said, especially since the real-feel temperature in Laos is about 105 degrees this time of year.

“It is hot as can be here. There are mountains everywhere,” said Gutbrod, who is digging and working the team’s radio communications.

Presently, Laos is not in its rainy season, which runs, according to travelfish.org, from May to October.

At this time, the 23 American recovery teams, which use standard archaeology methods, include one underwater and one mountaineering team, according to Maj. Natasha Waggoner of the DPAA. Personnel on each team can include a forensic anthropologist, team leader and sergeant, linguist, medic, life support technician, communications technician, forensic photographer, explosive ordnance disposal technician, and mortuary affairs specialists.

Accounting missions began in January 1973, long before the accounting agency came into being, Waggoner said. Over the years, they’ve identified 1,983 MIAs. Currently, Gutbrod’s team is one of 16 teams conducting operations in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea as well as Vanuatu and Palau, the latter two being island nations in the Pacific Ocean.

As of now, there are 302 missing Americans in Laos, 1,269 in Vietnam, and 51 in Cambodia, according to the DPAA. An American POW/MIA investigator, stationed full time in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, pursues leads. The investigator has interviewed some 80 Vietnamese witnesses with helpful information, and, for 10 years, combed through pictures, videos, and other documents concerning U.S. POWs and aircraft wreckages in Lao archives.

“We offer a special thanks to all the governments whose efforts and dedication have enabled DPAA to further progress in achieving the fullest possible accounting of our missing,” Waggoner said. “We rely heavily on those cooperative relationships.”

According to Gutbrod, Lao government representatives are with her team whenever it goes to its recovery site.

“They’re there to survey,” she said, “just to make sure that we’re not doing something we’re not supposed to be doing here.”

When her team found a live 500-pound, cylinder-shaped American cluster bomb, partially above the surface of the ground, its explosive ordnance technicians roped off the area.

“A couple of days later, Lao officials came and took care of it,” she said.

Several search accounts of the Laos landscape reveal a 250- or 500-pound UXO (unexploded ordinance) can be destroyed onsite, but anything larger must be moved before detonation so it does not impact any nearby villages.

From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions, according to Legacies of War, a U.S.-based educational and advocacy organization devoted to addressing the impact of the Vietnam War-era on Laos.

At the time, the Americans were trying to cut off traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, used by both sides during the war to transport weaponry, and support the Royal Lao Government against the ultimately triumphant Communist Pathet Lao.

Legacies of War reports 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War. Up to 80 million never detonated, leaving the country even today with a dangerous landscape that makes the cultivation of farmland nigh on impossible. Since the war, some 20,000 people have been killed or hurt by unexploded ordnance.

For nine years, the U.S. spent $13.3 million per day (in 2013 dollars) bombing Laos, according to Legacies of War. Between 1995 and 2013, it spent $3.2 million per year clearing unexploded ordinance.

The mission in Laos is the first for Gutbrod, who joined the military for practical and inspirational reasons. Joining provides steady work in an economy where that’s hard to come by, she said, but she also feels like she’s carrying on a family tradition.

Her cousin served in the Navy, she said, and an uncle recently retired from the Air Force. But she joined the Army because of her grandfather—John Gutbrod, 93, of Surf City, an Army veteran.

“My grandfather actually jumped on D-Day,” she said. “He spent most of his time in World War II throughout France and parts of Italy. After hearing all the stories he told me throughout the years, going into the Army seemed like something worthwhile to me.”

This summer, Gutbrod said, she’ll visit her family in Boonton for the first time in three years. She hasn’t seen a family member in a year.

“My grandfather taught me that you can go through hell and back again,” she said, “but family is always there.”

Lorraine Ash: 973-428-6660; lash@njpressmedia.com

http://www.dailyrecord.com/story/news/local/2015/03/29/boonton-woman-looking-mias-unexploded-bombs-laos/70559216/

 

Alexandria National Cemetery 3-12-15, taken by Gary Anthes

3-12-15
Alexandria National Cemetery
Photo taken by Gary Anthes
Technology Journalism and Photography
www.garyanthes.com

 

 

With our sincere thanks and full agreement, the following is an excerpt from testimony by VFW Commander-in-Chief John W. Stroud, before the joint hearing of the Committees on Veterans Affairs US Senate and US House of Representatives, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, Washington, DC.

“I would also be remiss if I didn’t comment on how important the POW/MIA mission is to the VFW and our nation’s veterans, service members and families everywhere. This is the most sacred of missions. … It honors a soldier’s pledge to never leave a fallen comrade on the battlefield, which is a promise that spans all generations.
The VFW supports the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which merged the policy and research capabilities of the former Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office with the operational capability of the former Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
We urge full mission funding for the new organization and all the support agencies involved. We will seek your support to increase the necessary resources to expand recovery operations into North Korea if and when it becomes safe to do so. Congress in the 2010 defense authorization act mandated that the accounting community begin making at least 200 identifications a year by 2015. That requirement is almost double the 107 identified last year. Recovering fallen Americans from long-ago battlefields is demanding and often dangerous work for investigation and recovery teams, but fulfills a service member’s promise to never leave a fellow service member behind, which is one mission I know we can all agree.”

 

 

(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Cambodia to facilitate U.S. efforts in search for soldiers’ remains in Vietnam war

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — President of Cambodian National Assembly Heng Samrin said on Monday that he would urge the government to facilitate the continued U.S. efforts in searching for American soldiers who were missing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War 50 years ago.

Samrin made the remarks when meeting with Ann Mills Griffiths, president of the National League of POW-MIA (Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action) Families, spokesman Keo Piseth told reporters after the meeting.

“Samrin highly spoke of the U.S. mission in searching for the remains of American soldiers missing in the Vietnam War, saying that such humanitarian mission has given an honour to the victims and an encouragement to the family members of the victims,” he said.

According to the spokesman, Samrin, on behalf of the National Assembly, supported and would urge the Cambodian government to continue cooperation with the National League of POW-MIA Families in order to expand searching areas for the remains of those missing soldiers.

In Cambodia alone, 90 American soldiers are unaccounted for from the Vietnam conflict, according to Samrin. So far, 38 of them had been found.

For her part, Griffiths expressed thanks to the Cambodian National Assembly and the government for supporting this humanitarian mission.

She said the mission in Cambodia will take longer time since it needs to expand the searching areas.

 

 

 Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel Resigns

11/24/14

“Today at the White House, the President thanked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his friendship, sound counsel and dedicated service to the United States across six decades – from volunteering for Vietnam to leading the Department of Defense.
 
As the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense, Hagel understands the men and women he leads like few others. Their safety and security have always been at the center of his service.
 
Secretary Hagel has been an exemplary defense secretary over the past two years and began his tenure at a time of transition – the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. 
 
As the President said, Secretary Hagel provided a steady hand as we modernized our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats while responding to immediate challenges from ISIL to Ebola.
 
Thanks to his important work, we’ve bolstered American leadership around the world and our military is on a firmer footing and looking ahead to the future. 
       
Secretary Hagel has been a critical member of the President’s team. He leaves the Administration with an esteemed record of accomplishments and the President is grateful for his lifetime of service.
 
Secretary Hagel began speaking with the President last month about departing the Administration. After having guided the department through this transition, the President and Secretary Hagel determined it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service.

Secretary Hagel will remain as defense secretary until the President nominates a successor, and that successor is confirmed by the Senate.”

 

 

DPMO head Winfield reportedly resigns as agency reorganizes
By Matthew M. Burke
Stars and Stripes
Published: October 28, 2014The embattled head of America’s efforts to account for MIAs has resigned, according to emails obtained by Stars and Stripes.
W. Montague Winfield, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel O…ffice, submitted his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Oct. 15, according to an email from his special assistant that was sent to family and veterans groups.
The retired Army major general’s resignation is effective Nov. 15, when he will return to work for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After becoming the first commanding general of the newly formed Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in 2003, Winfield became a polarizing figure in the accounting community, alternately blamed for its shortfalls and credited with its successes. His resignation comes on the heels of a nearly yearlong reorganization effort and a damning Inspector General report on America’s accounting operations.
“… Winfield made great strides in bringing the various components of the Personnel Accounting Community together as a team, and his emphasis on families brought new energy to Department of Defense meetings with families and veterans/family service organizations,” Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Workinger wrote in the email. “We greatly appreciate his many years of service, as a soldier and a civilian, and wish him continued success at FEMA as he continues to serve our nation.”
The resignation comes at a fragile time in the reorganization process, as both JPAC and DPMO have merged into a new command that is to be set up by January. The Oct. 17 IG report made it clear that the effort is threatened by poor leadership and a hostile work environment.
Family groups lashed out at the reorganization efforts in recent weeks because leaders whom they blame for the dysfunction remained in top positions.
Emails from Personnel Accounting Consolidation Task Force Director Alisa Stack, who is overseeing the reorganization on Hagel’s behalf, confirmed that Johnie Webb, JPAC’s longtime deputy to the commander for external relations and legislative affairs, has been appointed to a position “working on the future family experience.”
News of the appointment angered families and leaders of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen, who have sharply criticized Webb.
“This supposed reorganization is nothing more than a multimillion-dollar public relations stunt designed to get Congress and the media off DOD’s back,” Alliance research director Lynn O’Shea wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “Do they really expect the individuals who caused the problems to correct them? DOD is thumbing their noses at the families by involving Webb and any other senior management in the reorganization.”
Tom Holland, JPAC’s scientific director and deputy to the commander for Central Identification Laboratory operations, recently told a group of Korean War families and advocates that he had been fired.
However, family groups say that they have been told by Stack that no officials will be losing their jobs. They may be offered other positions within the new agency if the need for their current positions no longer exists.
For some, like Holland, this could mean having considerably less power and authority.
Winfield, or “Q” as he is called by friends and colleagues, served in the Army for 31 years, according to his DPMO biography. He later served as a federal coordinating officer for the FEMA, where he coordinated the federal response and recovery activities for 11 presidentially declared disasters.
Initial efforts to reach Winfield, Webb and Stack for comment were not successful. Holland referred questions to the secretary of defense’s office, which declined to comment on personnel issues.
burke.matt@stripes.com

Medical examiner named for new POW/MIA agency

 

Capt. Edward Reedy, right, director of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s DoD DNA Registry, has been named the first medical examiner for the newly reorganized accounting agency, according to a letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson congratulating Reedy on the appointment.
ARMED FORCES MEDICAL EXAMINER SYSTEM

By Matthew M. Burke

Stars and Stripes

Published: October 29, 2014

RELATED

A Navy captain with expertise in DNA analysis has been tapped to lead identification efforts in the newly reorganized defense agency accounting for those missing from former conflicts, according to documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Capt. Edward Reedy, director of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s DoD DNA Registry, has been named the first medical examiner for the newly reorganized accounting agency, according to a letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson congratulating Reedy on the appointment.

Reedy takes over duties previously held by Tom Holland, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command scientific director and deputy to the commander for Central Identification Laboratory operations. As medical examiner, Reedy will be the “single identification authority” and oversee scientific operations at the CIL, a satellite laboratory in Nebraska as well as the Life Science Equipment Laboratory in Ohio.

The letter, dated Oct. 10, assigned Reedy immediately to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy so he could participate in leadership meetings and activities “necessary to support organizational start-up.” However, the new position won’t officially begin until the new agency is formally established in the coming months.

“As directed by the Secretary of Defense, your mission accomplishment in this position will be critical to completing the transformation of the past accounting community,” Woodson wrote.

“As a leader in a new agency, you will certainly have challenges to overcome. However, your background and experience make you well suited and prepared to help guide the development of this new organization. I know that you will bring same outstanding quality work and dedication to your new position that has characterized your career to date.”

Initial efforts to reach Reedy for comment were not successful.

burke.matt@stripes.com

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

 

FREE HOTCAKES FOR HEROES ON VETERANS DAY AT BOB EVANS

Restaurants salute veterans with free all-you-can-eat hotcakes

New Albany, OH (October 23, 2014) – Veterans and active military personnel have a hearty hotcakes breakfast coming their way – free on Veterans Day, thanks to Bob Evans Farms. All Bob Evans restaurants will serve free all-you-can-eat hotcakes to veterans and active duty military members who present a valid military ID on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.

“On every day, but especially on Veterans Day, our team is honored to celebrate the men and women who give tirelessly of their time and talents to serve in our armed forces,” said Steven A. Davis, CEO of Bob Evans Farms. “They are heroes who deserve our ongoing gratitude –a heaping stack of our fresh from the griddle hotcakes is our way of saying thank you on this important day.”

Company founder Bob Evans was a veteran, having served in the US Army during World War II in several posts. He was inducted into the Army in January 1945.

Guests wishing to enjoy the original hotcakes breakfast (holiday offer not available on specialty hotcakes) must provide proof of service. Eligible identification includes a US Uniformed Services (current or retired) Identification Card, a current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), or a Veterans’ organization card (American Legion or VFW, for example). Guests wearing a military uniform on Veterans Day also are eligible.

For more information, visit www.BobEvans.com.

# # #

About Bob Evans Farms, Inc.

Bob Evans Farms, Inc. owns and operates full-service restaurants under the Bob Evans Restaurants brand name. At the end of the first fiscal quarter (July 25, 2014), Bob Evans Restaurants owned and operated 562 family restaurants in 19 states, primarily in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. Bob Evans Farms, Inc., through its BEF Foods segment, is also a leading producer and distributor of refrigerated side dishes, pork sausage and a variety of refrigerated and frozen convenience food items under the Bob Evans and Owens brand names. For more information about Bob Evans Farms, Inc., visit www.bobevans.com.

 

 

 

From the President’s verbatim remarks at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, reported on the White House website:

“And so here, on these hallowed grounds, we rededicate ourselves to our sacred obligations to all who wear America’s uniform, and to the families who stand by them always:  That our troops will have the resources they need to do their job.  That our nation will never stop searching for those who’ve gone missing or are held as prisoners of war.  That — as we’ve been reminded in recent days — we must do more to keep faith with our veterans and their families, and ensure they get the care and benefits and opportunities that they’ve earned and that they deserve.  These Americans have done their duty.  They ask nothing more than that our country does ours — now and for decades to come.  (Applause.)”

 

 

 

White House Memorial Day Breakfast, 2014.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths (seated, MIA Sister); Vice Chairman of the Board Karoni Forrester (MIA daughter) and Board Member Pam Cain (MIA daughter)

White House Memorial Day Breakfast, 2014. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths (seated, MIA Sister); Vice Chairman of the Board Karoni Forrester (MIA daughter) and Board Member Pam Cain (MIA daughter)

 

 

An article dated April 16,  from ProPublica, regarding the changes in the POW/MIA Identification Agencies including a link to Ann Mills-Griffiths memo to Defense Secretary Hagel.

http://www.propublica.org/article/big-revamp-of-pentagons-mission-find-missing-soldiers-looks-like-old-revamp

With Congressional pressure and media scrutiny intensifying, the defense secretary came out with a bold plan to fix the Pentagon’s struggling mission to recover remains of missing service members: reorganize the effort into a new agency.

“This new organization provides an efficient management structure for pursuing our goal of obtaining the fullest possible accounting for all missing Americans. Resolving POW/MIA issues is of the highest national priority and we will continue to work vigorously toward this end.”

Those remarks easily could have come from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last month when he announced just such a change. But they were actually made two decades ago, by then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin when the Pentagon first tried restructuring the bureaucracy as a way to solve troubling issues with the effort. Another consolidation, accompanied by similar rhetoric, happened in 2003.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million annually to recover and identify missing service members from the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II, but identified just 60 last year – far short of the 200 per year mandated by Congress starting next year. A ProPublica and NPR investigation found that the mission was hampered by outdated science, overlapping bureaucracy and poor leadership.

On March 31, Hagel said that the two major agencies in charge — the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, and the Defense Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel Office, or DPMO – would be consolidated into one to streamline the inefficient, duplicative process.

This latest restructuring is the broadest one yet, taking on the science used to make identifications and creating public-private partnerships, but it’s unclear whether it will be a reorganization just on paper like it was in the past. Indeed, the two long-troubled, soon-to-be combined agencies, J-PAC and DPMO, are themselves the product of the earlier consolidations.

Critics on Capitol Hill, in family advocacy groups and among former employees of the agencies all said that in order to have meaningful, lasting impact the changes must go beyond bureaucratic reshuffling to instead include new leadership.

“Any time you have a change that is truly philosophical it’s very difficult to accomplish that if the people being tasked with it still believe in the old ways of doing things,” Cmdr. Renee Richardson, a former DPMO staffer, said.

Given the “stories we’re being told, there definitely should be some people who are fired,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was one of the vocal critics on the Hill, said in an interview earlier this year.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, who is spearheading the changes, said at the time of the announcement that the new agency will be fundamentally new and different, ridding the effort of “outdated, institutionalized thinking.”

But asked if anyone was being held accountable for the problems that led to the need for changes, Lumpkin referred to a “structurally flawed” system rather than leadership.

The agencies’ current leaders might stay a part of the new as-yet-unnamed agency. Although the positions of DPMO director and J-PAC commander will disappear along with the organizations when the new agency is formed in the next 18 months, Lumpkin said, the people who held those positions “may be reclaimed” in the new organization.

The only personnel changes that have been announced are a director for the new agency who will report to the under secretary of defense for policy and an Armed Forces Medical Examiner who will be in charge of making identifications and overseeing the scientific operations of the lab. The latter strips Tom Holland, J-PAC’s longtime scientific director, of his primary authority, but Lumpkin wouldn’t comment on whether Holland would be a part of the new agency.

ProPublica and NPR reported that under Holland’s leadership, the laboratory has not used DNA as the first step in identifying remains, even though DNA has been the centerpiece of similar efforts worldwide for more than a decade.

Lumpkin did say that Hagel was putting the director of the new agency under the Office of the Secretary of Defense because he wanted someone he could hold accountable for the mission’s responsibilities – what Lumpkin called “a single belly button.”

The civilian leadership of DPMO and J-PAC has been entrenched for decades. Holland has been there since 1992. Johnie Webb, the deputy commander for external relations, has been with J-PAC since 1983. The current director of DPMO, retired Brig. Gen. W. Montague “Que” Winfield, was the first commander of J-PAC.

Complicating matters, for years J-PAC and DPMO have battled each other for territory, authority and responsibility.

Ann Mills-Griffith, founder of the lobbying group National League of POW/MIA Families, described the infighting as “destructive bickering.”

“It’s such a noble mission…every person wants the same thing,” said current J-PAC commander Gen. Kelly McKeague. “Where it breaks down – and this is where I shake my head – is the ‘how.'”

There was also feuding within J-PAC. There have been dozens of complaints about management and a hostile work environment – and employees who left with cash settlements.

With the struggle to make more identifications, Mark Leney, a former J-PAC anthropologist, said it’s hard to discern what “are technical difficulties of a unique mission to execute and what are ordinary issues of poor management.”

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating problems with the MIA effort, an inquiry that, according to several people who have been interviewed for it, is expected to address management and leadership issues.

The new agency will also face questions about mission priorities.

The Pentagon has long focused its recovery efforts on troops missing from the Vietnam War, a decision that experts say might not be the best use of its resources now. In fiscal year 2013, for example, J-PAC spent 65 percent of its field mission budget in Southeast Asia, but identified just nine Vietnam veterans.

In part, this is because the soil in Southeast Asia is so acidic it eats away at bones, essentially dissolving them. Several current and former J-PAC scientists have said that time might have run out there – there just may not be bones left to find.

Still, it remains politically delicate to cross advocates for Vietnam vets, some of whom have accused the government of covering up the existence of live POWs.

Mills-Griffiths, the most prominent and well-connected advocate for those missing from Vietnam, has long pushed to keep Vietnam at the forefront of MIA recovery efforts. Hagel personally thanked her at his press conference announcing the reorganization, and many of its features were recommended by her.

In a memo to Hagel, Mills-Griffiths blamed J-PAC’s decision to not increase field operations in Vietnam in part on a “misplaced focus by some on remains recoveries related to WWII as a means of increasing the number of IDs.”

Lisa Phillips, founder of WWII Families for the Return of the Missing, said, “We want exactly as Congress mandated. The fullest possible accounting of all POW MIA services members, regardless of the circumstances of the loss.”

Mills-Griffiths, whose brother is among the missing from Vietnam, has said the MIA effort was started for Vietnam vets, so families from other wars need “to stand in line“– raising the ire of advocates for World War II and Korean War veterans. But she has also said it isn’t a competition. Efforts on behalf of one war’s veterans shouldn’t be at the expense of others, she said.

Some families of troops missing in Southeast Asia have fought the disinterment of almost 10,000 troops buried as unknown casualties of the Korean War and World War II. That discord led to a 2009 DPMO memo saying that exhuming the graves of unknowns and using DNA to try to identify them should take a back seat to finding remains of service members still lost on the battlefield.

Lumpkin said the new agency would pursue more disinterments, but didn’t provide any details. J-PAC currently only exhumes remains in about 4 percent of the cases in which such a step is recommended. The average disinterment costs about $1,000 – significantly less than field operations.

Some families of missing troops from World War II and their advocates are hoping they will benefit from the move to embrace public-private partnerships, which could free their loved ones’ cases from the government’s grasp and allow them to move forward faster.

 

Hagel Orders Overhaul of POW/MIA Identification Agencies

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that he’s ordered an overhaul of the Pentagon agencies responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of America’s war dead.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel answers questions from reporters during a press conference at the Pentagon, March 31, 2014. Hagel discussed ongoing efforts to recover American service member remains from past conflicts and took questions about provocative actions by North Korea and the situation in Ukraine. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The reorganization seeks to consolidate the mission, improve efficiency and increase the number of remains identified by the two key agencies charged with POW-MIA accounting efforts — the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.

Last month, the defense secretary directed Michael Lumpkin, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, to provide him with recommendations on how to reorganize the two organizations into a single, streamlined unit with oversight for the entire mission.

“These steps will help improve the accounting mission, increase the number of identifications of our missing, provide greater transparency for their families and expand our case file system to include all missing personnel,” Hagel said.

An armed forces medical examiner working for the yet-to-be-named agency will be the sole DOD identification authority and will oversee operations of the central identification laboratory in Hawaii as well as those in Omaha, Neb., and Dayton, Ohio.

“By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency and build a stronger, more transparent and more responsive organization,” Hagel stressed.

In explaining why the reorganization was necessary, Lumpkin told reporters it had become clear that the department needed a “paradigm shift” from what some have called “outdated, institutionalized thinking and behavior that didn’t deliver the number of remains accounted for that we had hoped.”

“As of next year, Congress has mandated the department have the capacity to identify up to 200 sets of remains a year, but last year the DOD agencies only identified 70 sets,” he said.

Lumpkin said the new agency will maintain a single database of records related to missing Americans instead of the multiple databases currently in use. In addition, he said, proposals will be developed for expanding partnerships with private organizations already working to recover and identify remains to “fully embrace progressive science.”

No date has been set for when the new agency will be stood up, but the undersecretary said it would be led by a civilian appointed by the president.

“This is a top priority for the Department of Defense. There is no greater sacrifice a service member can make than by dying for this country and we want to honor these heroes by bringing them home,” Lumpkin said.

(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @SimeoneAFPS)

 

Contact AuthorBiographies:
Chuck Hagel
Michael D. Lumpkin 
Related Sites:
Transcript
Fact Sheet: Personnel Accounting Community Reorganization
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command 
Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office

 

 

 

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill Honoring POW/MIA Personnel  –  Bill Would Establish Commemorative Chair on U.S. Capitol Grounds

On February 27, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA)  introduced bipartisan legislation to honor America’s POW/MIA’s.  The POW/MIA Commemorative Chair Act S.2053 will honor all US personnel unaccounted-for from our Nations’ past and present conflicts.

The POW/MIA Commemorative Chair Act (S.2053) would direct the Architect of the Capitol to place a commemorative chair bearing the POW/MIA logo in a prominent location at the U.S. Capitol. This chair would remain unoccupied to serve as a reminder of the ongoing challenge of accounting for America’s still missing and unaccounted-for and in recognition of their sacrifices for our nation.

The POW/MIA Commemorative Chair Act is supported by the National League of POW/MIA Families, and veteran’s advocacy groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and Rolling Thunder.

Follow this link:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm  to find the information to contact your Senators to engage their support for  the POW/MIA Commemorative Chair Act, S.2053.

 

Representatives from the ID and NV POW*MIA Awareness Associations (L to R): Jim "Sarge" Blake (Director, Pocatello), Jennifer "Blue" Bowen (Pocatello), Jack Harp (Boise Valley), Zach Rodriguez (Boise Valley), Lance Stephenson (Boise Valley and National League of POW/MIA Families), Les "Sgt Grumpy" Brown (Eko), Dino Glascock (Boise Valley), Jim Brian (Elko)

Representatives from the ID and NV POW*MIA Awareness Associations (L to R): Jim “Sarge” Blake (Director, Pocatello), Jennifer “Blue” Bowen (Pocatello), Jack Harp (Boise Valley), Zach Rodriguez (Boise Valley), Lance Stephenson (Boise Valley and National League of POW/MIA Families), Les “Sgt Grumpy” Brown (Eko), Dino Glascock (Boise Valley), Jim Brian (Elko)

More than 500 bikers raise funds for POW/MIA veterans’ families

By Jennifer Auh  CREATED APR. 28, 2013, http://www.kivitv.com/news/local/205170421.html

Boise Valley POW*MIA Corporation held its Annual Sweet-Ola Ride/Auction and BBQ.

The ride started in Garden City and ended at the Triangle Restaurant in Sweet, Idaho. More than 500 bikers showed up and remembered the veterans that never returned. They rode for about 50 miles to honor the veterans, and they participated in the BBQ and auction to raise funds.

There was also live music by “Simple Ruckus.”  All the money raised will go to support the National League of POW/MIA Families to continue the fight to bring home our unreturned veterans.

The organization raises awareness and pushes for policies to help bring back prisoners of war and veterans that went missing in action.

Organizers said they hope to help bring everyone back, including Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Hailey. He has been imprisoned by the Taliban in Afghanistan, since 2009.

“We raised funds, we have local chapters from Pocatello, Boise, Idaho Falls. We can bring our efforts together,” said Dwight Murphy, Boise Valley POW/MIA spokesman.

Their motto: Until they are all home, “You Are Not Forgotten”!

Boise Valley POW*MIA Corporation Missing Man Honors Ceremony

Boise Valley POW*MIA Corporation Missing Man Honors Ceremony

This year’s ride was a resounding success!  The ride, bbq, and auction raised much needed funds to support the National League of POW/MIA Families and had more than 600 participants throughout the day.  The day began with breakfast and a motorcycle ride from Garden City to Sweet, ID, and activities later in the day included Bar-B-Q, an auction, speeches, and the Missing Man Honors Ceremony conducted by the Corporation.

The League is grateful for the consistent and continued support of the Boise Valley Corporation.  Over the years, Boise Valley has helped to spread responsible public awareness about the POW/MIA issue and their continued efforts on behalf of the League are an excellent example of what a small group of individuals can do to make a big

Some of the many supporters and participants of the Sweet-Ola Ride!

Some of the many supporters and participants of the Sweet-Ola Ride!

impact!  This year, Boise Valley will be broadening their support of the League by sending three members to participate in the 44th Annual Meeting as Sergeants at Arms.  

Be sure to check out the Boise Valley POW*MIA Corporation’s home page at http://www.bvpowmia.org/ to learn more about the organization and how you can become involved.  You can also see some great photos of the members, their past events, and learn more about the Sweet-Ola Ride as well as upcoming events throughout the year.    

 

_________________________________________________________

JPAC R&A Specialst Steve Thompson, Special Operations Association VP Rick Estes, and JPAC Commander General McKeague (left to right)

JPAC R&A Specialst Steve Thompson, Special Operations Association VP Rick Estes, and JPAC Commander General McKeague (left to right) during a special ceremony held by the SOA in Hawaii to recognize the dedicated work of JPAC.

____________________________________________________________

IMG_1337“With pride and Honor the Maryland Daughters of the American Revolution awarded Sara Frances Shay the NSDAR Founders Medal – Ellen Harlin Walworth Medal for Patriotism for her 42 years work with the league and her work in Maryland. She is quite the lady going strong at 94. Her son Maj Donald E. Shay, USAF went down over Laos on Oct 8, 1970. No remains have been found. Thank you to all who have helped to get accounting for our Americans.”

The League is proud to have Mrs. Shay as one of its family members.  Her earnest and steadfast dedication to the issue and the League since it was formed has been shown in numerous capacities including her work as our first National Coordinator, a board member, and the Maryland State Coordinator.  She is a fine example of the kind of lasting contribution a single person can make to an organization and a cause.

———————————————-

February 21, 2013: Regarding the organization “Honor-Release-Return”

League policy precludes affiliating with or supporting any organization with Honor Release Return’s known
positions and currently planned activities.

———————————————–

Budget cuts would affect POW-MIA recovery op

By Marty Callaghan – February 26, 2013

The American Legion has learned at its Washington Conference that the Department of Defense may have to suspend its overseas efforts to recover the remains of servicemembers who died in combat or as prisoners of war.

The news was broken during a Feb. 25 briefing for members of the Legion’s National Security/Foreign Relations Commission.

Johnie E. Webb, Deputy to the Commander Public Relations and Legislative Affairs, Joint Personnel Accounting Command‬, ‪‬told Legionnaires that “if sequestration hits, it may essentially close down a lot of our operations,” because his office’s civilian employees would be forced to take furloughs.

If automatic budget cuts take effect on March 1, many federal employees will have to take two furlough days per two-week pay period. DoD’s recovery operations last a minimum of 30 days, and federal workers can’t deploy while on furlough.

“So unless we can get an exception to that policy, and let those civilian scientists and others deploy, and then take a string of consecutive days when they get back, unfortunately, we may not be able to do any recovery operations and will be able to do only limited investigation operations.”

In Vietnam this year, four joint field activities are planned that will involve 14 U.S. recovery teams and seven from Vietnam. Some sites are still restricted for U.S. personnel, so Vietnamese recovery teams were created and are now conducting operations and cooperating with U.S. teams.

Four joint field activities of 30 days each are scheduled for Laos, but recovery operations had to be suspended in Cambodia because of financial issues; those operations should resume by the third quarter of this year.

In October 2011, the U.S. and North Korean government arranged to conduct searches for remains in 2012. DoD bought 30 brand-new SUVs, trucks, generators and other equipment for the joint endeavor. The first shipment went north, which included all the rice and gasoline supplies.

At that point, Pyongyang decided that joint humanitarian operations were inappropriate, given the fact that U.S. forces were conducting war games in South Korea. That along with North Korea’s recent missile tests, canceled the project; all the equipment remains in storage in South Korea.

DoD reports that it is putting more emphasis on recovering remains from World War II, working harder to identify sites and determine whether recovery teams should go in.

“Burma is a breakthrough,” Webb said, and his office is “getting cooperation from that government, and we should be doing operations in the near future.”

Webb said that 1,653 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. About 180 sites have been identified and “all that work needs to be done. We need to get teams out and excavate those sites and recover those Americans, and we need to continue to investigate – those witnesses are dying every day.”

- See more at: http://www.legion.org/washingtonconference/214001/budget-cuts-would-affect-pow-mia-recovery-ops#sthash.28PixpZC.dpuf

———————————————–

Sequestration Will Halt Recovery of MIA Remains

Feb 26, 2013

Military.com| by Bryant Jordan

Plans to find and recover remains of fallen American troops from past wars could come to a grinding halt if sequestration cuts take effect on March according to a DoD official.

Johnie Webb Jr., the deputy commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickham Air Force Base, Hawaii, told an American Legion crowd Monday that the announced strategy of meeting mandatory cuts by furloughing civilian workers will make it impossible for JPAC’s experts to complete recovery missions.

“Sequester says that civilians have to take two furlough days a pay period. A pay period is two weeks,” Webb said. “[But] you can’t be deployed and be on furlough. All of our operations run a minimum of 30 days. If we can’t get an exception to that [sequester] policy – and let those civilian scientists and others deploy and take a string of successive days when they get back – we won’t be able to do any recoveries, and only limited investigations” of recovery sites.

Webb said JPAC’s work already has been slowed because of the long drawn out budget impasse that has forced the government to operate through continuing resolutions. Under a continuing resolution, federal agencies see no increase in their budgets, but fall back to the prior year’s levels. JPAC now operates with about $100 million a year, but had been anticipating an increase of about $19 million in fiscal 2013, Webb said.

To read the rest of the article, visit http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/02/26/sequestration-will-halt-recovery-of-mia-remains.html?comp=700001075741&rank=1
———————————————–

This winter, the Wellesley alumnae magazine features a story about League Family Member Colleen Shine (class of 1986), and her work to help account for her father.  Read about it here: What Remains – Winter 2013

———————————————-

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center on November 28, 2012

“Earlier this year, as Secretary of Defense, I had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam. It was a strange experience to be in Cam Ranh Bay and to visit Hanoi. And yet in Hanoi, I met with Department of Defense officials who were there working diligently in Hanoi to locate the remains of service members missing in action in that country and throughout the region. It is our sacred duty to leave no one behind … I assure you and I assure every American that your government is committed to the fullest possible accounting of our missing service members from the Vietnam War.”

———————————————–

Through Airmen’s Eyes: Airman returns ‘home’ to help recover MIAs

Capt. Huy Tran, an officer stationed at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., interviews a witness in Vietnam during a search and recovery mission in the summer of 2012. In cooperation with the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, (JPAC), and the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), Tran played a vital role as a Vietnamese linguist on a recovery mission to bring home service members missing from the Vietnam War Era. (Courtesy photo)

by Senior Airman Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
11/27/2012 – GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) — (This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

An officer stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base traveled thousands of miles earlier this year to return to his birth country of Vietnam for the first time in eight years.

But Capt. Huy Tran wasn’t there to reunite with his own family or friends. His mission was to help search for and recover missing Vietnam War personnel, a rewarding experience Tran says he won’t soon forget.

In cooperation with the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), and the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), Tran played a vital role as a Vietnamese linguist on a recovery mission to bring home service members missing from the Vietnam War Era.

For the rest of this amazing article, please follow this link!

 

 

 

 

——————————————-

Arlington Cemetery Unveils New Interactive App.
By Matthew Barakat – The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Arlington National Cemetery on Monday made available to the public a massive electronic database detailing the gravesites of the roughly 400,000 people buried there.

Cemetery officials built the database over the last two years to verify the accuracy of their records brought into question by reports of misidentified graves. Prior to 2010, the cemetery used paper records and maps to track who is buried where.
_____________________________

 

“The Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two (MDSU 2) is an expeditionary mobile united homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story (located in Virginia) that deploys in support of diving and salvage operations and fleet exercises in NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM and CENTCOM AOR’s.  It’s primary mission is to direct highly mobile, fully trained and equipped Mobile Diving and Salvage Companies to perform combat harbor clearance/search and expeditionary salvage operations including diving, salvage, repair, assistance, and demolition in ports or harbors and at seat aboard United States Navy, Military Sealift Command, or commercial vessels of opportunity in wartime or peacetime.” (http://www.mdsu2.navy.mil/)

These days, one of the jobs of MDSU 1 and MDSU 2 is helping support the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command with underwater recovery.  The work done by MDSU is highly specialized and the support they give to the accounting mission is greatly appreciated!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-League-of-POWMIA-Families/136564939586
https://twitter.com/POWMIAFamilies1