AMERICANS RECENTLY ACCOUNTED FOR: On March 7th, DPAA released an announcement that Captain Daniel W. Thomas, USAFR, listed as MIA on July 6, 1971 in South Vietnam, had been accounted for. Remains were recovered by a Vietnamese Unilateral Recovery Team (URT) in August, 2014, that were identified in August, 2015, as those of Major Donald G. Carr, USA, the other person in the OV-10A piloted by Capt Thomas. Subsequent recovery efforts by the URT and repatriation of additional remains and material in April, 2016, brought the more recent ID of Capt Thomas. DPAA also listed on its website, under Statistics, the accounting for Colonel William E. Campbell, USAF, listed as MIA in Laos January 29, 1969. His remains were recovered April 17, 2014, identified August 29, 2016, and placed on the DPAA website this past week. On February 22nd, DPAA announced the ID of Capt Robert R. Barnett, USAF, listed as KIA/BNR on April 7, 1966 while piloting a B-57B over Laos. His remains were recovered June 18, 2015 and identified August 16, 2016. Earlier this year, a Marine Corps Reserve officer, 1st Lt William C. Ryan, was the first person since June of 2016 announced as accounted for from the Vietnam War. 1st Lt Ryan was listed KIA/BNR in Laos on May 11, 1969. His remains were recovered January 27, 2016, and identified December 7, 2016. The number still missing and otherwise unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War is now 1,614. Let's hope these four IDs are the first of many announced in 2017.
Of the 1,614 still missing (POW/MIA) and unaccounted-for (KIA/BNR), 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,260 (VN-463, VS-797); Laos-298; Cambodia-49; PRC territorial waters-7. These country-specific numbers can and do fluctuate when investigations result in changes to loss locations. Since formation in 1970, the League has sought the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains.
The total accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 969. There follows a breakdown by country of the 969 Americans accounted for since the April 30, 1975 end of the Vietnam War: Vietnam – 658, Laos – 268, Cambodia – 40, and the PRC, 3. In addition, 63 US personnel were accounted for between 1973 and 1975, for a grand total of 1,032. Of the 63, 9 were from Laos, 53 from Vietnam, and 1 from Cambodia. These Americans were accounted for by unilateral US effort in areas where access was possible, not due to cooperation with the post-war governments of Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. Added together, a total of 277 have been recovered and identified from Laos, 711 from Vietnam, and 41 from Cambodia.
DPAA FIELD OPERATIONS: There are currently 48 personnel deployed to three countries conducting investigation and recovery operations. DPAA currently has one Recovery Team (RT) conducting excavation operations in central Vietnam. Also, an Investigation Team (IT) is performing investigation operations with the assistance of several US Vietnam Veterans. The Research Investigation Team (RIT) will resume investigations on March 22. Three Recovery Teams (RTs) and additional support personnel departed Hawaii on March 2nd for the third Joint Field Activity (JFA) of this fiscal year in Laos. The RTs will excavate several sites in an attempt to account for five US servicemen. Another RT left Hawaii on March 2nd for Cambodia after being postponed from January and cut from 60 days to only 30 days. This team will attempt to account for two US servicemen from an aircraft crash site in northern Cambodia. A former US Special Forces soldier who visited the site shortly after the incident is accompanying the teams to assist in the recovery.
VIETNAM WAR ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS REDUCED: DPAA drastically cut the Vietnam JFA that began this month. With initial plans to conduct multiple recovery operations and investigations, DPAA deployed only one Investigation Team (IT) and one Recovery Team (RT), as well as a team to handle a Field Forensic Review (FFR) and a Joint Forensic Review (JFR). Thankfully, Vietnam provided one Unilateral Recovery Team (URT) and one Research Investigation Team (RIT).
After being assured by Acting DPAA Director Fern Sumpter Winbush that funding was secured, though at a lower level, but adequate to sustain operations until April 28th, this news was a serious blow to confidence in DPAA's commitment to pursue Vietnam War accounting as a continuing priority. The earlier JFA in Laos was also postponed by three weeks due to an aircraft breakdown and delay in Guam; however, the trilateral investigation reportedly began as scheduled on January 9th and the three RTs and one IT began three weeks late. The lost time was due to US budget constraints, NOT any obstruction from the Lao, and could not be recovered.
Of Note: Symbolic of how far the accounting mission has come: During January 8-11th trilateral defense-related talks in Da Nang that included Laos, Vietnamese Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich thanked the Cambodian Government for supporting Vietnam’s “search for and repatriation of the remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who’d sacrificed their lives in Cambodia” and agreed with Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh to continue this cooperation.)
DPAA BUDGET REQUIREMENTS NOT MET: It now appears DPAA will NOT have the funding in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) required to “increase the pace and scope of operations,” as has repeatedly been requested by Vietnam. Despite continuing internal dysfunction, DPAA had been proceeding well since becoming fully operational in January of 2016. Now, due to inadequate funding, the damage is increasingly clear. The plus-up of $20 million to reach the necessary FY17 budget total of $132 million for planned operational requirements was not requested, reportedly due to it already being too late to contract and utilize those funds, if approved, for use in the 3rd and 4th quarters of FY17.
YOUR HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED! Write your elected officials to object to the lack of funding for DPAA to meet FY17 operational requirements and ask for additional funding and exemption of DPAA funding from any/all reductions. Funding for veterans care is rightfully protected by exempting VA budgets from across-the-board reductions and/or sequestration. Our UNRETURNED Veterans, US POW/MIAs, deserve that protection and adequate funds to achieve the fullest possible accounting.
DPAA DIRECTOR SELECTION PROCESS: As of this date, a new DPAA Director has not been selected; however, an announcement seeking applicants for this crucial position has been distributed. The responsible official now “Acting in the capacity of” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is Ms. Theresa Whelan, a career DoD official. It is doubtful that a new person to permanently fill the position will be confirmed and in place by the time necessary to make the selection; hopefully, new Secretary of Defense General James Mattis will ensure serious consideration of recommendations provided by the League, Special Operations Association (SOA), Special Forces Association (SFA) and others. Up to now, there has been no indication that important qualifications - experience, character, commitment and dedication to the mission – were given consideration, nor crucial factors such as having earned the trust and respect of affected families, veterans and foreign officials whose willingness to authorize necessary cooperation is critical to success.
ATTEND DPAA-HOSTED FAMILY UPDATES: The remainder of the 2017 calendar for DPAA-hosted Family Updates is March 25th, New Orleans, LA; April 22nd, Kansas City, MO; May 20th, Syracuse, NY; during the League’s 48th Annual Meeting June 21-25th; and September 9th, Detroit, MI. You may have noticed postings on the DPAA website indicating 1,276 family members had attended these updates in 2016. What is unstated, therefore unclear, is that only roughly 20% of that number are Vietnam War family members.ATTEND DPAA-HOSTED FAMILY UPDATES TO SHOW YOU ARE ENGAGED AND EXPECT PRIORITY EFFORTS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF ADDRESSING THE MOST RECENT WAR.
48TH ANNUAL MEETING IS CRUCIAL: The League’s 48th Annual Meeting, June 21-25th, will again be held at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel, as it has been the last several years. This national convention will be the first opportunity to hear from senior Trump Administration officials. Since the Department of Defense (DoD) is responsible for the accounting mission and the Military Services play such key roles, Secretary of Defense General James Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford, USMC, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, are both invited to this year’s meeting.
Also importantly, and for the first time, Russian Co-Chairman of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs General-Colonel Valeriy A. Vostrotin, recently confirmed participation.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL MEMBERS ATTEND! Funding, personnel and leadership changes and challenges within the POW/MIA community ensure information provided during this year’s briefings and panels will be critical and will affect every family member.
There will be two full days of presentations by current and former US officials and noted private experts, as well as official briefings from analytic personnel, field operators, scientists and guest presenters on the complete range of issue-related policy and operational matters. The 48th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony will be held the evening of June 22nd. This year’s program includes two workshops on Friday, June 23rd, immediately following the Service-hosted Luncheons. That evening, there will be a special Interfaith Service & Concert in the Hall of Heroes, at the Pentagon, followed by a tour of the newly opened Vietnam War Exhibit. Saturday morning, June 24th, a three-hour Q&A Session will be held with working-level officials from DPAA. DIA’s Stony Beach Team, AFDIL and the Service Casualty Offices, followed by the League Business Session and a closing League-hosted Farewell Reception.
MAKE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS TO DEPART ON SUNDAY, JUNE 25TH, TO ENSURE PARTICIPATION AT THE Q & A SESSION AND THE BUSINESS MEETING IN PREPARATION FOR VOTING ON POLICY RESOLUTIONS GEARED TOWARD DEVELOPING LEAGUE POSITIONS ON THE WAY FORWARD TO ACHIEVE OUR SHARED ACCOUNTING MISSION. AND, PAY YOUR DUES TO BE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE!
Registration: To register for the 48th Annual Meeting, use the separate page of this mailing. PLEASE COMPLETE BOTH SIDES and return the form to the League office with your check covering the cost of meeting registration and dinner (if you choose to attend). Credentials for the meeting will be available for pick-up Wednesday, June 21st from 3:00 – 5:00 PM and 7:00 – 9:00 PM in the Virginia Ballroom Foyer, Plaza Level. Orientation for Newcomers will be held that same day from 4:00 – 5:00 PM Patrick Henry Board Room, First Floor. Cost to register for the meeting only is $50.00. As noted above, registration payment can be sent by check to the League office or paid online at www.pow-miafamilies.org, thus saving check-writing, stamps, and time, if so inclined
Special Events: The 46th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 22nd. For those inviting dinner guests, the additional cost will be $55 per person. On Friday, June 23rd, there will be a special Interfaith Service & Concert in the Hall of Heroes, followed by a tour of the newly opened Vietnam War Exhibit at the Pentagon. Bus transportation will be available starting at 6:00 PM and will return to the Hilton between 8:30 – 9:00 PM. The final event will be a League-hosted Farewell Reception, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, Saturday, June 24th.
Reservations: This year, the hotel rate for rooms at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel is again $152.00 (plus tax), per room, per night – single or double, with a charge of $20 per night for each additional adult in the room. To make reservations, call 800-HILTONS (800-445-8667), noting affiliation with the League’s 48th Annual Meeting. You can also go to www.hilton.com and use the code MIA.Deadline to secure the special rate is May 18th. The room-block is limited; early reservations are encouraged. If you have any problems with reservations, please contact the national office.
Transportation: As required by law, the Secretary of Defense will again authorize transportation for two family members of each Vietnam War missing and unaccounted-for serviceman or civilian to attend. Service Casualty Officers will be sending information to the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) about the 48th Annual Meeting, as well as forms to complete for requesting transportation (COIN Assist), case file reviews, and attendance at Service-hosted Luncheons.
In authorizing COIN Assist, original Congressional intent was to ensure that each missing American would be represented at the League’s annual meetings at which official government briefings will be given. HELP SPREAD THE WORD: All family members are eligible to attend the League’s annual meeting, though some League events are open only to those who register for the full League 48th Annual Meeting. If you have questions, call the national office, 703-465-7432.
Boutique: This will again be held in the Old Dominion Executive Board Room, Plaza Level. In view of the tremendous success in years past, the League is again seeking suitable items for display or purchase. Please be selective, and either bring the item(s) with you and deliver them to League officials at Registration or send them in advance to the League office, including an itemized list noting each item’s value. If you are interested in learning more about suggested donations or items that have sold well in the past, request a list from the national office, 703-465-7432.
Commemorative Program: Each year, the League publishes a special program that includes individual and organizational tributes honoring missing US personnel, organizational messages with best wishes to the families gathered for the meeting, and announcements related to POW/MIA awareness, etc. The green flyer enclosed with this newsletter provides the 2017 Program Rates. The deadline for receipt of such material is close of business on June 1st. Email your camera-ready artwork to Betty Bartels Murphy, MIA101925@aol.com, or Office Administrator Leslie Swindells, email@example.com, and mail a copy with payment to the national office.
Meet Your Congressman: It is more important than ever that elected Representatives and Senators know what POW/MIA family members, veterans and concerned citizens expect from Congress regarding support for the accounting mission. We urge you to call on your elected members of Congress to urge full funding and support for necessary personnel to accomplish our longstanding, reasonable objective: The fullest possible accounting for America’s unreturned Vietnam Veterans, our missing POW/MIAs. Plan ahead and make your appointment now to participate in Congressional visits this year. You will need to arrive in Washington, DC, one day early, on Tuesday, June 20th, to be available on the morning of Wednesday, June 21st, to meet with League Board Members to obtain points to raise and materials with current information for your visits on Capitol Hill.
LEAGUE ANNUAL DUES - 2017: Each year, the League asks that all League Members to renew their membership by sending the small donation of $25. If yours were not current, you recently received a postcard reminder. This not only supports the League, but also ensures your information on file is current in preparation for the Board Election coming soon. Send your check to the League’s national office or use the League website: www.pow-miafamilies.org.
LEAGUE BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: The Application to be a candidate for the seven-member Board of Directors 2017 – 2019 Election is enclosed. All League family members in good standing (dues paid current) are eligible to stand as candidates, and all are encouraged to give serious thought to placing your name in consideration. Serving on the Board is voluntary, and all are expected to attend meetings called by the Chair, most often in the Washington, DC, area, including sessions held during each annual meeting. Please give serious consideration to your ability and willingness to serve. Deadline for post-marking envelopes or receipt of applications by email is April 12, 2017. Please mail to League Office Administrator Leslie Swindells or send by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: Since the League Newsletter, November 24, 2014, 10 US personnel have been announced as accounted for; those most recently announced are: Capt Richard D. Chorlins, USAF, MIA, LA, 1/11/70, RR 2/11/03, ID 12/17/14 LT Richard C. Clark, USNR, MIA, NVN, 10/24/67, RR1/17/91, ID 11/7/14 Col William E. Cooper, USAF, MIA, NVN, 4/24/66, RR 11/16/98, ID 12/4/14 MSG James W. Holt, USA, MIA, SVN, 2/6/68, RR 6/21/89, ID 1/10/15 CMSgt Edwin E. Morgan, USAF, MIA, LA, 3/13/66, RR 11/19/11, ID 1/29/15 SSG Warren E. Newton, USA, MIA, SVN, 1/8/68, RR 9/8/11, ID 5/30/14 CW3 Larry Phipps, USA, MIA, SVN, 1/9/68, RR 9/8/11, ID 5/30/14 SSG Bunyan D. Price, Jr., USA, MIA, CB, 5/2/70, RR 4/3/14, ID 1/27/15 CW3 Ranier S. Ramos, USA, MIA, SVN, 1/9/68, RR 9/8/11, ID 5/30/14 LTJG Neil B. Taylor, USNR, KIA/BNR, 9/14/65, RR 6/24/13, ID 11/25/14 Several of those named serve as examples of how remains repatriated many years ago can now be identified using contemporary science that wasn’t available in the early years. The number of Americans now listed by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 954. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,017. Of the 1,629 still unaccounted-for, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,269 (VN-467, VS-802); Laos-302; Cambodia-51; PRC territorial waters-7. Over-water losses on DoD’s list of No Further Pursuit cases number well over 600. ONGOING POW/MIA REORGANIZATION: In response to growing concerns over direction, a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) and League letter was sent to former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on December 11, 2014, laying out very serious concerns over lost momentum and lack of confidence in the ongoing reorganization effort. The former Secretary again responded to our concerns, but it was not until January 9, 2015, that specific decisions were announced. While Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USDP) Christine Wormuth will continue to be the senior DoD official directly responsible, RADM Michael T. Franken, USN, was named Interim Director of the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and former JPAC Commander Maj Gen Kelly K. McKeague, USAF, was named the Interim Deputy Director. In addition, and as promised, LTG Michael Linnington, USA, currently serving as Military Deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, was named as special advisor to USDP Wormuth. The PACT (Personnel Accounting Consolidation Task Force) was terminated, as were the PACT-directed Working Groups. The Clearing, a private consulting firm retained by the PACT Director, is continuing to provide assistance, though now to newly organized and directed functional task forces. Despite former Secretary Hagel’s admonition to be fully transparent, Working Group recommendations were not released publicly; therefore the League is unable to provide insights on the usefulness of their efforts. The League, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and other groups received pledges from senior DoD officials that secrecy was over, there would be full transparency and a real working partnership would be established with the families, in particular. Chairman’s Assessment: Secretary Hagel’s personal involvement and commitment gave reason for cautious optimism that the reorganization he directed would prove to be beneficial. The outcome is now less certain; however, senior military officers were selected to restructure the various elements into one efficient, effective agency with higher priority and support. Clearly, former Secretary Hagel was determined to “get this right” and was not tolerant of excuses; however, initial implementation by the PACT, The Clearing and other inexperienced staff showed reluctance to build on strengths and look for ways to improve the existing process. While that may seem simple enough, educated insights from experienced, dedicated professionals were neither sought nor welcomed by the earlier transition team. We urged Under Secretary Wormuth to proceed thoughtfully, and she did, supported by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD/SOLIC) Michael Lumpkin and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community Outreach René Bardorf. Now, the reorganization is in the hands of RADM Michael T. Franken, USN, for the initial six months. A permanent Director is due to be in place before the League’s 46th Annual Meeting in June so, again, we wait and see. LEAGUE DELEGATION TO SOUTHEAST ASIA January 23 – February 10, 2015 Summary: League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths, Vice Chairman Mark Stephensen and Senior Policy Advisor Richard Childress comprised the League Delegation that represented all the Vietnam War POW/MIA families, as well as the interests of working level US officials and our nation’s veterans, in meetings with US and foreign officials in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand from January 23 – February 10th. Our schedule was thoughtfully coordinated by then JPAC Policy & Plans Director Jennifer Nasarenko, to whom we express sincerest appreciation. The League is especially grateful to our Senior Policy Advisor, Richard T. Childress, who has served in this position since retiring from the Army in January, 1989, the very day he left his key position (after a record eight years) as Director of Asian Affairs on President Reagan’s National Security Council staff. Trained as a Thai Foreign Area Officer (FAO) with unparalleled knowledge, experience and friendships across Southeast Asia made him invaluable to the League, to the success of the POW/MIA accounting mission, with commitment amply demonstrated since 1981. After hours of conversations and briefings by the League and dedicated US officials then in place, he developed the Reagan Administration’s “10-point strategy” to resolve the issue and never stopped pushing. He and his wife, Elli, have attended every annual meeting since 1981, though his early participation was official. He took the issue seriously, understood the families’ perspective and, despite unwarranted attacks, set about implementing President Reagan’s assigned priority. This League Delegation was the 5th since he assessed Vietnam’s cooperation and decided he could, in good conscience, return to Vietnam. The significant results achieved since priority was raised in 1982 are in large part due to the efforts of Richard T. Childress, to whom all the POW/MIA families owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. US Ambassadors, Deputy Chiefs of Mission and Embassy staff members, Detachment Commanders and staff, and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Stony Beach Team specialists participated in all official discussions. The League appreciates the briefings from those most directly engaged with counterpart governments in all countries visited, as we did their support during working-level meetings and calls on senior officials. Following several meetings at US Embassy Bangkok, including with US Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Murphy, DIA’s Stony Beach Program Chief Brad Taylor and Lao/Thai specialists Jared Ellison and David White, Detachment 1 Commander Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Rob Culpepper, USAF, Deputy Commander Major (MAJ) Dan Robinson, USA, and Cambodia specialist personnel Vina Chhouk, the Army Attaché, and others on the Country Team, the Delegation first traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for discussions with US Ambassador Bill Todd and his Country Team. In Cambodia, meetings were held with Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Interior (MOI) Sar Kheng, President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin, General Moeang Samphan, Secretary of State in the Ministry of National Defense (MND), and MOI Secretary of State and Permanent Vice Chairman of the Cambodian POW/MIA Committee Sieng Lapresse, before flying by helicopter to Koh Tang, island site of an ongoing effort to recover personnel still unaccounted-for from the 1975 USS Mayaguez incident, including three Marines who were tragically left behind alive. The next stop was Vientiane, Laos, for discussions with US Ambassador Dan Clune and his Country Team before visiting three of four ongoing field recoveries, a completed and closed site, and returning to the Lao capital. Discussions were held with DPM and Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Thongloun Sisoulith, Vice Minister of National Defense (MND) Lieutenant General (LTG) Chansamone Chansylath, President of the Lao National Veterans Federation Brigadier General (BG) Somphone Keomixay and Ambassador Khouanta Phalivong, Director General of MFA’s Americas Department and head of the Lao POW/MIA Team, comprised of MFA, MND and Ministry of Public Security (MPS) officials. Always central to many of the League’s overall goals, Vietnam was the final stop. Detailed discussions took place with the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP), the accustomed prelude to senior policy-level discussions with Vice Minister of National Defense (MND) Senior LTG Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of Public Security (MPS) To Lam, and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Ha Kim Ngoc Ngoc, all of then known to the League from past years. Mrs. Childress and Mrs. Stephensen accompanied their husbands and, along with DIA’s Stony Beach Program Chief Brad Taylor, visited (by road and boat) one of the field recovery sites in Laos. The ladies also attended several social events in each country and added significantly to the Delegation’s efforts by their presence. As is customary since 2003, expenses for individual travel and accommodations, as well as most meals, were voluntarily paid by the participants, for which the League expresses sincere appreciation. In each country, the ladies, aided by the Chairman, purchased locally crafted items to raise funds for the League at this year’s Annual Meeting Boutique, a very successful side-event, chaired by League State Coordinator Elaine Palen, assisted by Mrs. Childress. We are also grateful for the support extended by the Washington, DC-based Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian Ambassadors and their Embassy staffs. For many years, League Delegations have received courtesy visas prior to departure; a gesture of significant respect for the League and our mission, and this year was no exception. The League Chairman and Office Administrator Leslie Swindells met over lunch with long-serving Lao Ambassador Seng Soukhathivong while his staff worked to accomplish issuing the visas. The Royal Cambodian Embassy was equally accommodating, though Ambassador Hen Hem was ill, so we met with Special Assistant to the Ambassador Peang Gafour. Finally, special appreciation and a warm welcome are extended to Vietnam’s new Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh. He has tough shoes to fill with the return to Hanoi of his predecessor, Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong, a uniquely talented individual who delivered stirring, thoughtful remarks at the League’s 44th Annual Meeting Dinner in June 2013 and was very successful as his Nation’s Ambassador to the United States. Cambodia: Consistently cooperative for decades, Cambodia continues to provide the highest level of support and assistance, responding positively to all requests. Failure to achieve answers in recent years has been due to US-imposed legal obstacles to operations, budget shortages and scheduling glitches. As a result, the primary focus in Cambodia is to express the families’ and our nation’s appreciation for their willingness to assist all POW/MIA accounting efforts on a humanitarian basis. We first called on US Ambassador to Cambodia Bill Todd, a talented asset and advocate for all US interests and, in our case, specifically on the accounting mission. He and his Country Team, including long-serving DIA Stony Beach Cambodia specialist Pete Loverde, were informative and helpful in briefing the Delegation on all aspects of US objectives in Cambodia, including the level of humanitarian assistance and support through USAID and the NGO community, the increase in military-to-military cooperation, bilateral and multilateral efforts on mutual concerns, such as addressing international terrorism, narcotics and human trafficking, etc. Lt Col Rob Culpepper, USAF, Commander of Detachment 1 in Bangkok, also leads POW/MIA operations in Cambodia and was supporting us throughout our visit. League delegations over many years have been received at the highest levels in the Kingdom of Cambodia, including by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamony and long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen though, on this visit, these two leaders were out of the country. In Phnom Penh, we met with His Excellency Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, DPM/MOI Sar Kheng, Secretary of State in the MND General Moeang Samphan, and Permanent Vice Chairman of the Cambodian POW/MIA Committee Sieng Lapresse, who also serves as Secretary of State in the MOI. Due to a death in his family, we were unable to meet with long-time friend General Pol Saroeun, Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Chairman of the Cambodian POW/MIA Committee. The League Delegation expressed appreciation for Cambodia’s decades of cooperation and the expectation that US funding and personnel would become more stable and predictable, plus likely increase as a result of the complete reorganization now ongoing. We thanked them for their total support and integration of the DIA Stony Beach Team specialist and stressed the fact that Cambodia continues to lead all countries in providing support and assistance. We asked them to try to ensure that sensitive border conflicts with the Lao and Vietnamese are not permitted to interfere with humanitarian cooperation, as had just occurred on the Lao-Cambodia border, causing cancellation of a field recovery in a border province. Though believed to be a localized action by uniformed border guards, Cambodian officials expressed concern and their intention to follow-up with the Lao. They also stressed continuing commitment to do whatever was needed for however long to help the US account for our missing personnel. We were flown by helicopter to the USS Mayaguez excavation site in Koh Tang, an island off the southern coast of Cambodia. During this field visit, we also saw long-serving POW/MIA Committee Deputy Chairman LTG Kem Channee. We deeply appreciated this opportunity, facilitated by Detachment 1 Commander Lt Col Rob Culpepper, USAF, and his specialists. Senior Lab archeologist Brad Sturm, on his 66th field recovery as scientific leader, demonstrated his customary leadership and professionalism, motivating all involved with his commitment, positive attitude and commendable skill. All were impressed with the breadth and scope of the recovery and deeply appreciated the tremendous support and assistance provided. Laos: We were met at Wattay International Airport by Detachment 3 Commander LTC Marcus Ferrara, USA, and long-time Casualty Resolution Specialist (CRS) Bill Gadoury, plus other Det 1 staff facilitating our arrival through customs. Discussions in Vientiane with US Ambassador to Laos Dan Clune and his Country Team were most helpful throughout the visit. Ambassador Clune and his wife, Judy, graciously hosted the League Chairman and the Childresses for the first three nights at their official residence, site of a lovely reception in the League’s honor they hosted for many Lao and US officials. The Country Team meeting, broad in scope, highlighted the need for renewed US efforts to increase the effective US Aid for International Development (USAID) program, a big component of longstanding efforts to demonstrate humanitarian reciprocity. The Delegation’s initial in-country mission was to visit three of four ongoing field recoveries and one site previously completed and closed. After flying commercially on Lao Aviation to Savannakhet, we drove with Detachment 3 Commander LTC Ferrara to Xekong and overnighted at the base camp, the Xieng Khoang Hotel. We flew by helicopter to three recovery sites, received briefings, touring each and talking with the military teams and scientists, archeologists and anthropologists, all of whom were most impressive and committed, despite the difficulties faced. We also surveyed a completed and closed site involving a reported burial location of a discrepancy Last Known Alive case. We all were extremely impressed by the scope and extent of this repeat recovery effort, symbolic to us of the extent to which US specialists go to account for US personnel still missing and unaccounted-for, whether an aircraft incident or a case of someone captured, held and reported to have died and been buried, perhaps the most difficult of sites to successfully locate and recover. While no additional remains were located during this follow-up recovery, it was meaningful to see firsthand the extraordinary effort made on this case, circumstances too often necessary. At all of these sites, the League donated family size mosquito nets to village-level Lao officials, symbolic of additional nets, purchased by the League, that will be delivered by US field teams to Lao people helping with field recoveries in the various areas we visited. This small humanitarian gesture was meant to demonstrate the League’s continuing support for humanitarian assistance, an initiative begun by the US Government in the early years of the Reagan Administration and long since expanded. The level of support and assistance provided by LTC Ferrara and his team throughout our time in Laos, but especially as we flew by helicopter and traveled by road and boat (in the case of the ladies and DIA’s Stony Beach specialist) to the field sites was extraordinary and deeply appreciated. We also were inspired by the dedicated field personnel with whom we were privileged to spend some time, including Lao personnel who were with us throughout. These mostly senior US enlisted personnel knew precisely why they were there, working in difficult locations under often dangerous circumstances, eating primarily self-transported food when in the field, more or less on the run between shifts. We are most grateful for their efforts and those of their leaders, military and civilian. Following our return to Vientiane, significant discussions were held with Lao Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Thongloun Sisoulith, raising points related to operational requirements necessary to be more efficient and effective in achieving accounting results, and again clarifying the role and status of DIA’s Stony Beach specialist in Laos. We briefly explained the ongoing reorganization of the US accounting community and expressed optimism that formation of the new Defense agency would help ensure full and predictable funding for field operations. To move cooperation forward, we urged the Lao Government to: 1) initiate another internal search for relevant records, few as they may be due to wartime circumstances, and request Vietnam’s assistance in providing relevant records on incidents where their troops operated during the war; 2) agree to an increase, as needed, in the number of US personnel allowed in-country simultaneously, to conduct field operations; 3) approve more US teams to operate from additional base camp locations near remote incident sites, when needed and requested, to expedite accounting results; 4) reassess and reduce imposed requirements for Lao escorts (security personnel) to help reduce costs; 5) raise an unnecessarily restrictive 8:00 p.m. curfew on US team participants; and 6) increase flexibility and participation by DIA’s Stony Beach in the investigation process. (Though assigned in Laos for over five years, with prior Lao agreement on increased flexibility within and outside of Joint Field Activities (JFAs), imposition of excessive escort and advance notice requirements continue to impede cost-effective, small team investigations, as initially and repeatedly proposed and long understood. Our dismay over this practice was cited as unbecoming in today’s environment.) Related to all these points and suggestions, the League noted changed and changing circumstances in Laos, with freedom of movement by NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) and traveling tourists, no escort/security requirements imposed, etc. Given prior successes with Vietnam in 2011 and earlier in raising archival research in a detailed format, we provided a compelling reference summary of archival documents that the Lao should be able to locate, in Vientiane or Hanoi, and provide to the US or, at a minimum, produce a reasonable explanation as to why the archival documents might be unavailable. (All of the above points were raised in significant detail at an earlier “roundtable” discussion with working-level officials who grasped the proposals and agreed to raise them with their superiors, including focus on the small-team concept for Stony Beach-led investigations.) DPM Thongloun’s positive reaction was notable, as was his reasoning in responding that all of these issues warrant a closer look to see what the Lao Government can recommend to solve such challenges. He recognized the difficulties of the archival document issue and indicated willingness to communicate with Vietnam, noting that unlike the Lao, the Vietnamese had the wartime ability to report and retain documents. He committed to looking closely at the current situation and how the proposed changes could be accommodated, stressing the importance of archives to reach the fullest possible accounting. The DPM noted that security needs can be unpredictable, based on local understanding and acceptance, but pledged to look at the guard/escort requirements and step-by-step improvements. The Minister recognized the urgency in working to resolve any border issues so as not to adversely impact joint field operations and agreed to contact Cambodian officials. He expressed understanding of the small-team proposal related to the DIA Stony Beach investigations and indicated that the arrival of the new Stony Beach specialist in the spring will provide an opportunity to review the concept and look for ways to overcome any obstacles. It was clear that DPM Thongloun recognizes some of the restrictive measures of the past need to be modified, and changes for the better need to come with the ever-improving bilateral relationship. It is also evident that the loss of two key Lao national security officials in 2014 severely impacted the leadership of the Ministries of Defense and Public Security, leaving both with newly appointed senior officials who may or may not be permanently assigned in these positions. We are hopeful our visit will help them to better understand the history of our joint efforts over many years. The gap caused by losing two such highly placed national security officials in the same helicopter accident is understandable and the situation is still in flux, possibly shifting to generational changes as in other areas. Time will tell but, in the interim, the Lao had an opportunity to respond further on all issues raised by the League during the semi-annual POW/MIA Consultations held February 20th in Vientiane by DPAA’s Interim Deputy Director Major General Kelly McKeague, USAF. (In these consultations following our return, the Lao responded in some areas, i.e., lifting unrealistic curfew restrictions, affirmed flexibility in permitting small team Stony Beach investigations outside of the Joint Field Activities, and agreed to reassess their archival holdings and communicate with Vietnam on their holdings that may be helpful but, as expected, deferred other matters for higher level consideration and decision.) While, it seemed little short of miraculous to expect positive responses in such a short time (less than a month), shortly before the League Delegation’s arrival Ambassador Clune had sent the DPM/FM a very effective, succinct letter laying out some of these same concerns. The impact of a unified position by DoD, State and the League prompted some progress and, if DPM/FM Thongloun can manage to persuade the Lao leadership to react positively in other respects, it would be most welcome and mutually beneficial. DPM/FM Thongloun’s openness, warmth and receptiveness during discussions were welcome, encouraging, and revealed vision in looking to the future with cautiously optimistic realism. Minister of Posts & Telecommunications (former Lao Ambassador to the US) Hiem Phommachanh and his wife, Kanika, retired senior official in the Lao MFA, hosted a luncheon in the League Delegation’s honor at the lovely new Landmark Hotel in Vientiane, during which much on POW/MIA accounting was discussed. The Minister’s current, challenging portfolio covers expanding telecom interconnectivity with neighboring countries, cybersecurity, and the issue of national telecom interface with worldwide networks/telecommunication. Substantive discussions were also held with the Deputy MND LTG Chansamone Chanyalath and with President of the Lao National Veterans Federation BG Somphone Keomixay, the first such meeting by the League with a Lao official in charge of Veterans Affairs. BG Somphone indicated he looks forward to meeting any veteran delegations that may come to Laos and showed great familiarity with US-Lao accounting efforts, expressing his full support. The same basic points on POW/MIA accounting issues were raised in each meeting, though the focus for specific issue-related matters was during discussions with DPM/FM Thongloun, the ranking Lao official, and Ambassador Khouanta Philavong and the interagency specialists who participated in roundtable discussions. Vietnam: Going into discussions with senior Vietnamese officials, a more cooperative attitude was evident, a positive spirit of mutual collaboration to address and solve any problems that exist and to seek solutions to new challenges. Due to 2013 discussions in Washington, DC, on the sidelines of bilateral US-SRV Defense Dialogue, it was clear that initiatives to expand bilateral and multilateral POW/MIA accounting cooperation would be given positive consideration. This was in keeping with Vietnamese proposals – to the League since 2009 and repeatedly since to the League and US officials – to expand the pace and scope of field operations and overall cooperation. US responsiveness to Vietnamese proposals had been sporadic at best and undermined perceptions of US seriousness in the minds of many, domestically and internationally. As a result, we looked forward to positive, thoughtful discussions with officials in the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP), the coordination point within the SRV Government for all POW/MIA accounting-related matters, followed by meetings with senior Vietnamese officials. We were met upon arrival on February 3rd at Noi Bai International Airport by Detachment 2 Commander LTC Julian T. (JT) Tran, USA, and long-time Casualty Resolution Specialist Ron Ward, transported to the Hilton Hanoi L’Opera Hotel where we were met by DIA’s Stony Beach Team Vietnam specialist Mike Najim. The following morning, US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius hosted a Country Team Briefing at his residence in downtown Hanoi, after which we returned to the Hilton, prior to departure for the VNOSMP’s Office at the Ministry of Defense where extended, very positive and detailed discussions were held with Director Mr. Tran Thanh Tam and interagency members of the VNOSMP. In addition to specific requests, we briefly explained the ongoing reorganization of the US accounting community and expressed optimism that formation of the new Defense agency would help ensure full and predictable funding for field operations. This substantive discussion was followed by an office call with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc, known to the League from earlier years in MFA and VNOSMP, with significant experience dealing with Americans during his tenure at the United Nations. A lovely dinner that evening was hosted by Mr. Nguyen Ba Hung, MFA’s Americas Director and former head of the VNOSMP, also known from prior VNOSMP chairmanship and other MFA assignments. He was the Consul General in San Francisco prior to returning to Hanoi. The first formal meeting on Thursday, February 5th, was with Mr. To Lam, Vice Minister of Public Security (MPS) at the Ministry’s External Affairs Office. Again, Vice Minister To Lam was familiar to the League from our call in 2011, also at the Ministry. This important session was followed by the all-important meeting with Senior Lt. General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of National Defense (MND) and he was also known to us. (In addition to the League Delegation in 2011, the League Chairman had met with LTG Vinh in 2014 when he was in Washington, DC, for the Defense Dialogue with the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (ASD/APSA), a position since assumed by former US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear.) The same points were raised at all meetings, in greater detail with the VNOSMP, and a hard copy was left to ensure there were no misunderstandings, though interpretation support was outstanding, whether by Ron Ward or a Vietnamese official. We first recognized how far things had come since cooperation was seriously begun in the early 1980s, noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the first joint recovery in Vietnam, cooperation that served as a bridge leading to normalization of the bilateral relationship celebrating the 20th anniversary this year. We expressed sincere gratitude to the government and people of Vietnam for the humanitarian assistance that has brought answers and peace of mind to several hundred American families and the continuing improvements that are making today’s efforts even more efficient and effective. In light of the increasingly close partnership between our countries and the ever-expanding political, economic and military relationship, we noted it is increasingly hard to explain to the families and veterans why there would be any remaining obstacles to full, open cooperation. Thus, in light of current circumstances, we noted we are urging both countries to intensify cooperation – both unilateral and joint – before more immediate family members as well as case-related witnesses, pass away. Specifically, we asked Vietnam to 1) waive the 100-person limit on US personnel allowed for each JFA when the need arises or additional personnel unexpectedly become available; 2) approve more than two recovery teams operating in one province simultaneously, when justified on a case-by-case basis; 3) approve the two DIA Stony Beach Team Vietnam specialists for permanent relocation to Hanoi; 4) renew and expand unilateral research to other-than-military archives and provide long-requested documents on last-known-alive and other discrepancy cases in Vietnam and in areas of Laos and Cambodia where Vietnamese forces operated during the war; 5) locate and provide the remains, or remains fragments, of US personnel who died while in Vietnam’s control that have not yet been returned and are unlikely to be recovered jointly. Responsiveness at all levels was positive, both generally and specifically, with clear affirmation of commitment and willingness to renew archival research, noting it has become routine since 2011 and will continue. The Vietnamese noted they had provided 82 documents since the League’s last visit and that some archives are not filed by POW/MIA as a topic, thus are more difficult to locate. They added that they will accept the Lao cases for ideas on how to search their archives and will work with the Lao, if asked. They affirmed their intention to continue the unilateral Vietnamese Recovery Team (VRT) concept, jointly tested and determined to be very productive and less costly. They offered to expand the VRT process to take on more and more difficult cases if the US wishes to do so. They noted that from the initial list of 34 restricted cases, there are now only two sites still in that category, both off shore and too sensitive for joint operations in the current environment. (Unspoken were concerns over dissension in the South China Sea.) The Vietnamese agreed to further increase the pace and scope of operations, adding that both sides must prepare personnel for expansion, citing the US need for more team leaders, linguists, archeologists and anthropologists, noting their need to train Vietnamese personnel to develop skills necessary for conducting advance negotiation and coordination with provincial officials. They added that we, collectively, must not lose effectiveness. They also opined that the remaining cases in Vietnam are increasingly difficult and pose significant risks to all personnel, asking that the League convey this concern over health and safety to US officials. We replied by stating our view that the US Government was not legally permitted to offer health insurance protection, as previously requested, but that safety of Vietnamese and Americans on the joint teams was also highest priority to the US side. Related to longstanding, repeated US requests for acceptance of the two Stony Beach specialists on a permanent basis, Vice Minister of Public Security To Lam indicated he saw no problem with them working in the MIA office and, after hearing that they don’t work for the Detachment, but to augment the Detachment’s investigations, the Vice Minister indicated that the Stony Beach visas could be extended (1 year vs 3 months) as an interim step while this was further considered. (Ultimately, this will be resolved at a higher level, but the attitude for consideration was positive.) Vice Minister of Defense Senior LTG Vinh agreed to increase cooperation and look closely at all initiatives discussed with the VNOSMP and raised to Vice Minister Ngoc and Vice Minister To Lam. He asked for greater assistance by the US to locate remains of their servicemen and, in particular, asked the League to help spread the word about our collective efforts. He mentioned having traveled with SRV President Truong Tan Sang to the US in 2013 and meeting with veterans group representatives at that time, an opportunity he viewed as invaluable to increase understanding between the veterans in the two countries. He also expressed appreciation for the humanitarian assistance the US has provided to help ameliorate the dangers of unexploded ordnance and damage suffered from Agent Orange, especially in the Da Nang area that was heavily impacted. We provided suggested archival locations in the US on which Vietnamese researchers could focus and pledged to notify the major national veterans organizations, through League channels, of their impending visit and need for assistance in this area Personal Reflections of Vice Chairman of the Board Mark L. Stephensen, February 4, 2015, raised in concept during the VNOSMP meeting: ”My father, Col Mark Stephensen, USAF, MIA/remains returned, flew 94 missions over North Vietnam before his RF-4C crashed evading hostile fire. The last two days, I’ve been privileged to be on a field visit to 4 field Recovery sites in Savannakhet Province, Laos. As we were transiting to the sites via ground vehicles and helicopters, I was struck by the thought that I was witnessing the same terrain and environment my father saw as he executed his missions from Northeast Thailand into North and, perhaps, South Vietnam. I could see the majestic mountain ranges with formidable karst formations. I stood under the jungle canopy, sometimes in double and triple thickness. Looking up from the ground and down from the helicopter as we flew, I could appreciate how someone on the ground could hear and almost see a rescuer, but not be seen by him. I saw the smoke and haze and clouds that could hide an entire mountain range blocking line-of-sight-style radios and rescue beacons. I appreciated how easy it was to hide deadly, radar-guided anti-aircraft missiles and artillery in the dense foliage and rocky terrain. I could only imagine the desperation of wounded crewmen in badly damaged aircraft trying to get back to the safety of Thailand through this deadly landscape. The province we visited was directly on the Ho Chi Minh trail which was used by the North Vietnamese Army to supply combat missions into South Vietnam and support the Viet Cong already there as well. Two of the sites we visited were other RF-4C losses. Of the four crewmembers on these two aircraft, two were accounted for and the other two are still missing in action, with a presumption of death. Both incidents were similar to my father’s circumstances of loss; both resulted in high speed impacts with considerable destruction of the aircraft. Fortunately for our extended family, my father’s remains were recovered by the NVA, initially buried, later exhumed, stored, then unilaterally repatriated and identified. My father was afforded proper burial with full military honors. The effort we witnessed was to affect the same for these two unreturned US veterans. I also saw brave, dedicated US service personnel who volunteer to work in harsh and uncomfortable conditions, away from home for months, searching for their missing comrades. Most weren’t even born when these men fought and died. They are all heroes. As I rode in the van and in the helicopter, I thought to myself, as Dad was flying over this country, he probably could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that his oldest son would someday be driving in that same country looking for missing Americans. With indescribable irony, I can only imagine that he was thinking of his family, but those thoughts would have been back at home in Idaho, certainly not in Laos.” DPAA & CASUALTY OFFICE CONTACTS FOR YOUR USE:DPAA – East: Mr. Mike Fowler, email@example.com DPAA – West: Mr. Johnie Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org ARMY: Mr. Greg Gardner, email@example.com NAVY: Mr. Rudy Gonzales, Rudolph.Gonzales2@navy.mil MARINE CORPS: Ms. Hattie Johnson, Hattie.Y.Johnson@usmc.mil AIR FORCE: Ms. Sandra Kolb, Sandra.Kolb.firstname.lastname@example.org STATE: Ms. Linda McFadyen, McfadyenLP@state.gov CIA: Mr. Kenny May or Ms. Ann Sharpe, email@example.com AFDIL: Lt Col Alice Briones, USAF, firstname.lastname@example.org 46TH ANNUAL MEETING IS CRUCIAL: The 46th Annual Meeting will be held June 24-27th at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel. This national convention will be the first opportunity to receive an In-Process Review (IPR) on complete reorganization of the POW/MIA accounting process. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD-P) Christine Wormuth has been invited as Keynote Speaker at Opening Session, Thursday, June 25th, 9 a.m. She was designated by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as the primary DoD official responsible for overseeing development of the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of the new Agency will have been in place for six months, so there should be ample information to share with the families. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL MEMBERS ATTEND! Funding, personnel and leadership changes and challenges within the POW/MIA community ensure information provided during this year’s briefings and panels will be critical and will affect every family member. There will be two full days of presentations by current and former US officials and noted private experts, as well as official briefings from analytic personnel, field operators, scientists and guest presenters on the complete range of issue-related policy and operational matters. A decision has not yet been made as to the guest speaker for the 46th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony the evening of June 25th. This year’s program includes special workshops on Friday, June 26th, before the Service-hosted Luncheons, and Regional Meetings scheduled immediately following the Service Luncheons. Saturday morning, June 27th, a three-hour Q&A session will be held with working-level officials from DPAA. DIA’s Stony Beach Team, AFDIL and the Service Casualty Offices, followed by the League Business Session and a closing League-hosted Farewell Reception. It is imperative that family members make travel arrangements to ensure participation at the business meeting and be available to vote on policy resolutions geared toward developing League positions on the way forward to achieve our shared accounting mission. Registration: To register for the 46th Annual Meeting, use the last two pages of this newsletter (page 11-12). PLEASE COMPLETE BOTH SIDES and return the form to the League office with your check covering the cost of meeting registration and dinner (if you choose to attend). Credentials for the meeting will be available for pick-up Wednesday, June 24th from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the Virginia Ballroom Foyer, Plaza Level. Orientation for newcomers will be held that same day from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. in the Monroe Room, Plaza Level. The cost to register for the meeting only is $50.00. Registration forms can also be found online at http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/annual-meeting/. If so inclined, your bank’s “bill-pay” program or PayPal can be used to submit payment for registration, thus saving check-writing, stamps, and time. Special Events: On Wednesday, June 24th, the US Army’s Twilight Tattoo at historic Fort Myer has been scheduled for those who have picked up credentials. Bus transportation will be available starting at 5:30 p.m. The 46th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 25th. For those inviting dinner guests, the additional cost will be $55 per person. We hope to have a Strolling Strings Concert and Non-denominational Service on Friday, June 26th, at the close of that day’s session, 6:00–7:30 p.m. The final event will be a League-hosted Farewell Reception, 5:30–6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 27th. Reservations: This year, the hotel rate for rooms at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel is again $149.00 (plus tax), per room, per night – single or double, with a charge of $20 per night for each additional adult in the room. To make reservations, call 800-HILTONS (800-445-8667), noting affiliation with the League’s 46th Annual Meeting. You can also go to www.hilton.com and use the code PML.The deadline to secure the special rate is May 16th. The room-block is limited; early reservations are encouraged. If you have any problems with reservations, please contact the national office. Transportation: As stipulated by Congress, the Secretary of Defense will again authorize COIN Assist transportation for two family members of each Vietnam War missing and unaccounted-for serviceman or civilian to attend. Service Casualty Officers will be sending information to the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) about the 46th Annual Meeting, as well as forms to complete for requesting COIN Assist transportation, case file reviews, and attendance at Service-hosted Luncheons. In authorizing COIN Assist, original Congressional intent was to ensure that each missing American would be represented at the League’s annual meetings. Please help spread the word: All family members are eligible to attend the League’s annual meeting at which official government briefings will be given. Some League events are open only to those who register for the full League 46th Annual Meeting. If you have questions, call the national office, 703-465-7432 Boutique: This year, the Boutique will again be held in the Old Dominion Executive Board Room, Plaza Level. In view of the tremendous success in years past, the League is again seeking suitable items for display or purchase. Please be selective, and either bring the item(s) with you and deliver them to League officials at Registration or send them in advance to the League office, including an itemized list noting each item’s value. Note in the Trip Report that unique items were purchased specifically for the Boutique at each country visited – Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. If you are interested in learning more about suggested donations or items that have sold well in the past, request a list from the national office, 703-465-7432. Commemorative Program: Each year, the League publishes a special program that includes individual “ads” honoring missing US personnel, organizational ads with best wishes to the families gathered for the meeting, ads promoting POW/MIA-related and other products, etc. The green flyer enclosed with this newsletter provides the 2015 Program Ad Rates. The deadline for receipt of ads is close of business on May 29th. Email your camera-ready ad to Betty Bartels Murphy, MIA101925@aol.com, or Office Administrator Leslie Swindells, email@example.com, and mail a copy with payment (or a PayPal receipt) to the national office. Meet Your Congressman: It is more important than ever that elected Representatives and Senators know what POW/MIA family members, veterans and concerned citizens expect from Congress regarding support for the accounting mission. We urge you to call on your elected members of Congress to urge full funding and support for necessary personnel to accomplish our longstanding, reasonable objective: The fullest possible accounting for America’s unreturned Vietnam Veterans, our missing POW/MIAs. Plan now to participate in Congressional visits this year, and make your appointment. Plan to arrive in Washington, DC, one day early, on Tuesday, June 23rd, to be available on the morning of Wednesday, June 24th, to meet with Congressional Visit Chairman Sue Scott to obtain points to raise and materials with current information for your visits on Capitol Hill. LEAGUE ANNUAL DUES – 2015: Each year, the League asks that all League members and Associate Members renew their membership by sending the small donation of $25. This not only supports the League, but also ensures your information on file is current in preparation for the Board Election coming soon. Send your check to the League’s national office or use PayPal. LEAGUE BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: The Application to be a candidate for the seven-member Board of Directors 2015 – 2017 Election is enclosed for family members only. All League family members in good standing (dues paid current) are eligible to stand as candidates, and all are encouraged to give serious thought to placing your name in consideration. Serving on the Board is voluntary, and all expenses are the responsibility of those elected to serve, including travel and accommodations to attend meetings called by the Chair, most often in the Washington, DC, area, including sessions held during each annual meeting. Please give serious consideration to your ability and willingness to serve. Deadline for post-marking envelopes or receipt of applications by email is April 15, 2015. Please send to League Office Administrator Leslie Swindells, firstname.lastname@example.org. ONE MORE THING – VIETNAM WAR CASE-COORDINATION PROCESS: US Officials from throughout the accounting community met in Hawaii February 24-28th for the 48th Case Coordination Conference to determine the way ahead for nearly 400 of the 1,629 US personnel still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The process involves analysts and field investigators meeting for discussion and review of all available information on as many cases as the analytic community believes are prepared in terms of pursuing further action that could bring accountability. This process demonstrates that despite whatever dysfunction and turbulence may occur within the leadership, the Vietnam War accounting process is relatively mature and successful. One can only hope that those conducting archival research to retrieve information from US archives related to WWII losses will develop as outstanding a working relationship as has long existed among the talented Vietnam War-related professionals who work together productively and well. It is understood that, on this occasion, other senior accounting community officials observed the coordination process and gained a better understanding of how the two different Research & Analysis components in DPAA-East (DPMO) and DPAA-West (JPAC), plus DIA’s Stony Beach and the field operators from the Detachments, are complimentary, not duplication of efforts, as often alleged. This is an invaluable lesson that one hopes the many officials recently conducting internal and external investigations and assessments fully recognize and appreciate.
NEWSLETTER: November 24, 2014 AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: There are still 1,639 personnel listed by the Department of Defense (DoD) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The remains of SSG James L Van Bendegom, USA, missing in Cambodia since July 12, 1967, were recovered March 21, 1986, and identified August 26, 2014. The remains of Capt Richard L. Whitesides, USAF, missing in South Vietnam on March 26, 1964, were recovered September 9, 2013, and identified September 22, 2014. The number of Americans announced by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 944. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the official total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,007. Of the 1,639 still missing, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,274 (VN-469, VS-805); Laos-306; Cambodia-52; PRC territorial waters-7. Over-water losses on DoD’s list of No Further Pursuit cases number well over 600. POW/MIA ACCOUNTING COMMUNITY REORGANIZATION: In response to growing concerns over the direction being pursued, a meeting was called on October 31st, during which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel generally acknowledged that momentum had slowed and confidence had diminished in the reorganization effort, then responded with strong pledges of support. In the presence of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth (senior DoD official directly responsible), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs/Community Relations René Bardorf, PACT Directors, five major national veteran organization representatives, including VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace, and the League’s Chairman of the Board, as well as other family and veteran group participants by conference call, the Secretary made the following specific commitments: 1) Failure is not an option; 2) Secrecy will end now, and there will be full transparency; 3) In consultation with Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey, agreed to name a senior uniformed military advisor to Under Secretary Wormuth; and 4) Expressed full confidence in Under Secretary Wormuth’s ability to get the reorganization right. Due to Secretary Hagel’s personal involvement and commitment, there was reason for cautious optimism that the reorganization would move forward rationally and prove to be beneficial. The League’s optimism has taken a direct hit with the Secretary’s resignation today. Success of the ongoing transition effort is the direct responsibility of Under Secretary Wormuth, with the PACT transition team reporting directly to her and their decisions subject to her purview. Senior Executive Service (SES) civilians Ms. Alisa Stack, Mr. Ross Brown, COL, USA (Ret) and Mr. Scott Schless form the core of the Personnel Accounting Consolidation Taskforce (PACT). Their qualifications for this critical task reportedly include expertise in structuring a new agency, determining budget and personnel requirements, interface with other departments and agencies, and strategy and integration. During the October 31st meeting, Under Secretary Wormuth stated she wanted “a pause” to assess how the PACT’s designated Working Groups were functioning and moving toward Initial Operating Capability (IOC), scheduled for January 2015. Due to family and veteran representatives’ concerns about composition and objectives of the Working Groups, the names of participants were requested. In light of the Secretary’s firm edict on transparency beginning now, it was surprising to learn PACT Director Alisa Stack has since noted in an email that DoD has not released the names. Under Secretary Wormuth could decide changes are needed, and we encourage her to think in that direction and proceed without delay. There is no question that Secretary Hagel is determined to “get this right” and will accept no excuses; however, disappointment within the public and private accounting communities lies in initial implementation by inexperienced personnel and reluctance to build on existing strengths, then look for ways to improve the process. While this should be incredibly simple, input from experienced, dedicated professionals is not being sought or welcomed by the transition team. MORE ON REORGANIZATION: The following PACT document was provided to the League, Korean War and WWII families, and all major Veteran Service Organizations for distribution: Fact Sheet for the Past Conflict Personnel Accounting Transformation In March 2014, the Secretary of Defense directed the creation of a new Defense agency that will consolidate all activities related to the accounting of missing personnel from past conflicts. The purpose of the consolidation is twofold:
To centralize Department of Defense (DoD) authority for past conflict missing personnel accounting; and
To resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency within the Department of Defense.
The Department, through the Personnel Accounting Consolidation Task Force (PACT), is in the process of designing the new agency. The new agency will simultaneously operate more efficiently and effectively while meeting the expectations of families of missing DoD personnel from past conflicts. These families are DoD’s primary focus, and providing them better service is the goal. Throughout this transformation, all operations and activities pertaining to existing personnel accounting missions will continue. Accomplishments: • The Administration submitted a legislative proposal to Congress in May 2014 to establish the new agency. • A consulting firm, The Clearing, was hired to advise on change management and process design. • The Deputy Secretary of Defense approved implementation of the transformation plan. The transformation effort will take at least one year to complete, with some efforts focused on cultural change likely to continue after full operating capability is reached in January 2016. • The plan begins by setting the new agency’s mission, vision, and values, followed by process design and organizational structure. Based upon several months of discussions with internal and external stakeholders, the PACT, Joint Personnel Accounting Command (JPAC), and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) have determined the new vision and mission for the new agency. o Vision: A world-class workforce fulfills our nation’s obligation to account for missing personnel by maximizing the number of those accounted for while ensuring timely, accurate information is provided to their families. o Mission: We provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. o Values: Compassion, integrity, teamwork, respect, and innovation.
Ongoing Activities: • Over the next several months, DoD will begin consolidating some activities to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in January 2015. o October: Launch internal working groups on family products and services, collection and analysis, laboratory and forensics, and case management. o October-November: medical examiner in place to be the identification authority and oversee scientific operations for the new agency. o October: Combine DPMO and JPAC current communications and establish “family experience” lead to shape the systems and processes for family engagement. o October: Combine DPMO and JPAC financial operations. o October-December: Develop branding identity for the new agency; i.e., name and logo. Solicit and consider suggestions from family groups and veterans’ organizations. o November-December: Single process for operations functions and systems are in place to transfer field activities from U.S. Pacific Command to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. o By December: Decision on headquarters location and designate an interim director. • The new agency is projected to reach full operational capability (FOC) by January 2016. • Families, family groups, veterans’ organizations, and others will continue to be consulted throughout the agency implementation process through a number of venues: o Direct calls and meetings with PACT, The Clearing, and the lead for the future family experience o The Office of the Secretary for Defense’ Public Affairs outreach activities o Possible focus groups and/or surveys on products and services Working Groups: • The first round of internal working groups begins in fall 2014. Other working groups will be held in 2015. • 2014 working groups are: o Family Products and Services o Collection and Analysis Methods o Lab and Forensics o Case Management o Field Operations
• The working groups are internal to DoD. Working group members are comprised of volunteer employees from all ranks and sections of DPMO, JPAC, AFDIL, and the Services. • They work collaboratively to identify best practices in each of the five areas. • They will make recommendations on functions and processes for the new agency for consideration by senior management. • All options for functions and ways to work are open for consideration. • A Strategy and Integration team exists to draft a strategy for the new agency and incorporate individual working group recommendations into a single process for the new agency. The Strategy and Integration team’s recommendations will go to PACT, and as required, to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Defense. • All members of the workforce are invited to volunteer. Group members were selected based on functional expertise, communication skills, current workload, and diversity within working groups. • Those not on working groups at this time will have opportunities to volunteer for future working groups and support other projects.
CHAIRMAN’S ASSESSMENT: The PACT’S “Fact Sheet” was provided for publication in late September, has been overcome by events in some instances and, if you have questions, please call or send them in. Since her appointment, Ms. Stack and other PACT members, aided by The Clearing (see below) have interviewed people, in and out of government, and appear to be focused on ensuring that a wide variety of voices is heard, family members and veterans, responsible and irresponsible, so the outcome could be interesting. The Clearing, a consulting firm, initially contracted for a reported $2,000,000 and, more recently, an added $6,689,586 (yes, millions), was hired to obtain input from family members from all wars on their experiences in dealing with various accounting community organizations. In addition to DPMO, JPAC and LSEL (specifically named in Secretary Hagel’s restructure directive and by Congress), these include Service Casualty Offices, AFDIL and DIA’s Stony Beach POW/MIA team. The Clearing also has been interviewing and obtaining input from all US officials who wish to contribute views related to the overall mission and their own specific agency/organization. Apparently, the number of people willing to talk with The Clearing personnel is significant, and continuing; thus, the need for added funding to keep them engaged. The Clearing can be reached by emailing email@example.com and is seeking views from all who are willing. Family members from all wars are urged to provide their views and, in light of the comparatively small number of Vietnam War family members, the League is encouraging ALL Vietnam War family members to take this opportunity to remind members of PACT, The Clearing and senior DoD officials that uncertainty about Vietnam War missing men remains a significant factor for the families. The greatest uncertainty surrounds Vietnam War missing personnel, though the same can be said of a relatively small number of Korean War servicemen who were last known alive on the ground or in POW camps, but never returned; therefore, the need for answers is paramount, more so than identifications on disinterred remains of deceased personnel from earlier wars and conflicts. This is particularly relevant to disinterments of personnel buried as “unknowns” in US cemeteries abroad; sadly, their families know they perished. The League supports accounting for WWII, Korean War and Cold War losses, as an important though vastly different mission than ending uncertainty with answers. Following review and approval by Under Secretary Wormuth, PACT recommendations were provided to Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and, with his approval, implementation began. Several timelines were announced, as shown in the PACT “Fact Sheet.” Incremental steps were set to begin, including naming of an Interim Director for the new Defense Agency sometime this fall. The first of many changes applied to consolidating budget and communications, with instructions to begin acting now as one agency. Interim Operational Capability (IOC) is set for January 15, 2015 and, until that time, DPMO, JPAC, LSEL and all other elements of the accounting community were reportedly directed to continue work uninterrupted by reorganization/transformation/consolidation plans and implementation. In reality, PACT Director Alisa Stack assumed the leadership role and is making operational decisions on personnel hiring, budgeting and travel for DPMO, JPAC and, presumably LSEL as well. Since Secretary Hagel personally directed the “complete reorganization” of the accounting community and assured us of his personal engagement and commitment, the League was looking to him to confirm prospects for success of the reorganized community. Now that he has resigned, optimism is tough to sustain. Several interim briefings have occurred, though without details or specifics. Hopefully, the PACT and its Working Groups will become transparent, as instructed, and seek input from knowledgeable, responsible current and former officials, as well as the League and the major national veteran organizations, before plans are finalized. Valid input into the process can help assure acceptance by those most directly impacted, the Vietnam War POW/MIA families and family members of US personnel lost in earlier wars and conflicts. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ON NATIONAL POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY: At the national ceremony held at the Pentagon on September 19th, the Secretary stated in part: “The United States appreciates the ongoing support of many allies and partners across the globe – many represented here today – and on behalf of the men and women of our military, I thank you. You have helped us in recovering our missing. A good example of many of these efforts is Vietnam. Vietnam has been providing an increasing amount of archival documents to support our pursuit of missing Americans. We appreciate these efforts and will continue to build on this partnership going forward…..As many of you know, earlier this year I directed the Defense Department to organize this effort into a single, accountable operation that has the responsibility for personnel accounting resources, research, and operations….making that organization stronger, more effective, more transparent, and more responsive…..DoD has been working closely with everyone who has a stake in this mission – including families, the veterans’ service organizations that are represented here today, and I thank them, Congress, and the agencies’ workforce. We’ve made progress in this transformation, and the new Defense Personnel Accounting Agency will achieve initial operating capability this January.” Comment: POW/MIA Recognition Day/Week this year was the most widely commemorated ever, signaling that the American people stand with our missing men and their families in a unified quest for answers. We are deeply grateful to the major Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) for their strong, steady support and assistance. Without such support, the accounting mission would never have survived until President Reagan came in and established serious priority, nor would the effort have grown to what it is today, reaching back to remains recoveries from WWII.
DIA’S STONY BEACH: While Acting Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director David Shedd and his team at Headquarters continue to strongly support DIA’s specialized, highly trained and motivated Stony Beach Team, only in Cambodia are Stony Beach specialists allowed to perform their assigned tasks as intended. In Laos, despite agreement at long last to allow PCS (permanent change of station) for the one SB specialist, challenges still exist to conducting small-scale investigations and interviews that best serve the mission. We hope for agreement when his replacement arrives, hopefully before the end of this year. In Vietnam, the leadership has thus far failed to approve PCS for the two Vietnam specialists, but I am optimistic that such will soon occur due to the ever-increasing, broadening military-to-military cooperation. ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS: Another series of field operations took place in Vietnam from August 5th to September 7ththat included a Joint Forensic Review (JFR), and it was a busy year in Vietnam with regularly scheduled, implemented joint operations. On September 23rd, JPAC hosted annual Technical Talks with Vietnamese counterparts in Hawaii. Once again, US officials heard Vietnamese requests for expanding the pace and scope of field operations that have been sporadic at best, again depending on funding, as well as weather-related issues. Nine US teams are now operating in Vietnam, the largest deployment ever, finally responding fully to Vietnam’s offer to the League in 2009, repeated often, to expand the pace and scope of field operations. On August 26th, JPAC hosted POW/MIA Consultations with the Lao, in Hawaii, that were not especially significant in terms of results achieved, but important in that views were exchanged, and the US request for renewed cooperation by Laos on archival documents was raised and not rejected. Little progress was made on other requests by both governments. The lack of positive Lao responsiveness was somewhat predictable, based on uncertainty within the Lao leadership brought about by the untimely death of the Lao Ministers of Defense and Public Security. Another possible reason was the lack of US dependability on field operations due to budget fluctuations, sequestration and revised JPAC operational plans. Joint Field Activities (JFAs) resumed late last month with five Recovery Teams (RTs), one Investigation Team (IT) and one Research Investigation Team (RIT) conducting a trilateral (LPDR, SRV & US) investigation. This JFA, expected to conclude in early December, will be the first in a long time to maximize the number of US personnel allowed in-country at one time, i.e. 53 US personnel. Operations in Cambodia have been sporadic at best, with only one JFA thus far in 2014, though postponed twice in 2013. A JFA is scheduled in Cambodia in early 2015, but that could still change. For the first time in over 20 years, technical level talks were not held with Cambodia in 2014, but plans are being considered for senior level, operational discussions with Cambodia’s POW/MIA Committee leadership in the near future.
LEAGUE DELEGATION RETURNING TO SOUTHEAST ASIA: The League Chairman of the Board will lead another delegation to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia early in 2015. The overdue visit is to reinforce to senior officials in all three countries our appreciation for increased cooperation over the past two-three years and outline specific requirements on which greater assistance is needed. It is also likely that the League officials will be given the opportunity to visit ongoing field operations in Laos and Cambodia, as has routinely occurred over the years. Senior Policy Advisor Richard Childress and Vice Chairman of the Board Mark Stephensen were confirmed by vote of the Board Directors as the other two delegation members.
46TH ANNUAL MEETING IS CRUCIAL: The 46th Annual Meeting will be held June 24-27th at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel. This national convention will be the first opportunity to receive an In-Process Review (IPR) on complete reorganization of the POW/MIA accounting process. The Secretary of Defense will be invited as Keynote Speaker at the Opening Session on Thursday, June 24th, 9 a.m. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of the new Agency will have been in place for six months, so there should be ample information to share with the families. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL MEMBERS ATTEND! COIN Assist transportation – Congressionally mandated, DoD-directed and Service-provided – will once again be available for two family members per man still missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War to attend. Funding, personnel and leadership changes and challenges within the POW/MIA community ensure information provided during the briefings and panels will be critical and will affect every interested family member. (To place an ad honoring your missing loved one, see page 8.) LEAGUE ANNUAL DUES – 2015: Each year, the League asks that all League members and Associate Members renew their membership by sending the small donation of $25. This not only supports the League, but also ensures your information on file is current in preparation for the Board Election early next year. Send your check to the League’s national office or use PayPal. LEAGUE BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: The February League Newsletter will include an application to run for election to the League’s seven-member Board of Directors. All League family members in good standing (dues paid current) are eligible to stand as candidates and all are encouraged to give serious thought to placing your name in consideration. Serving on the Board is voluntary, and all expenses are the responsibility of the Board member, including travel and accommodations to attend no more than three meetings called by the Chairman, most often in the Washington, DC, area, excluding sessions held during each annual meeting. Please give serious consideration to your ability and willingness to serve. POLICY RESOLUTIONS VOTED AND PASSED IN 2012, 2013 AND 2014 APPLY TODAY: During each annual meeting, a required business session is held during which voting is conducted on policy resolutions. Only League family members in good standing (dues paid) are eligible to vote. The following League positions are relevant to ongoing reorganization; they have been abbreviated without changing the full meaning of each policy position:
Resolution Defining “Fullest Possible Accounting: Resolved that the policy statement of the Department of Defense that defines the fullest possible accounting should reflect the previously long-standing elements as follows: the return of a live POW, his identifiable remains, or convincing evidence why neither is possible (in which case all information will be provided to the NOK and the missing man’s name will remain on the official US personnel unaccounted-for list. Passed unanimously Resolution on Accounting Process: Resolved that a full spectrum of investigations, research, analysis and archival initiatives should continue at a vigorous pace, along with the surge in excavations, to ensure the Master Excavation List continues to expand. Passed unanimously Resolution to Reinforce SEA Research & Analysis: Resolved, that DPMO should ensure that, under the new organizational structure, the critical functions of research and analysis for Southeast Asia be reinforced with additional resources and personnel. Passed unanimousl Resolution on Accounting Priority for POW/MIA Parents: Resolved, that cases of missing men with a surviving parent be given priority attention for resolution. Passed overwhelmingl Resolution on Recovering Life Support Equipment & Artifacts: Resolved that in future site excavations and recoveries, all life support equipment and artifacts will be collected, preserved as discovered, and returned to the Lab for immediate referral to LSEL for evaluation, and that no life support equipment will be discarded or left behind for any reason; and further Resolved that, should personal effects be recovered, the PNOK should be advised as quickly as possible and, after being entered into the accession system, such items should be photographed and returned to the custody of the PNOK. Passed unanimously Resolution on Relationship between DPMO and JPAC: Whereas, the League has been concerned about conflicts over roles and missions between DPMO and JPAC over the past few years and heard pledges of greater cooperation between the two organizations; the League commends the JPAC Commander and DASD for POW/MIA Affairs for public expressions of a new and cooperative relationship and looks forward to joining them in this spirit of full consultation and coordination. Passed unanimously Resolution on Excavation Priority: Whereas there have been instances where possibly correlatable material, artifacts and personal effects indicate an incident site may be recoverable and that such endangered sites are a factor in JPAC’s decision-making on scheduling sites for excavation and, in some such cases, over a decade has passed since such materials, artifacts and personal effects were discovered, be it Resolved that, in these instances, the League urges that surveys and excavations be given higher priority for excavation as soon as is possible. Passed unanimously 46th ANNUAL MEETING, JUNE 24-27, 2015 PROGRAM AD RATES INSIDE FRONT COVER – $1,000 INSIDE BACK COVER – $1,000 FULL PAGE (8 ½” x 11”) – $500 ½ PAGE (8 ½” x 5 ½”) – $250 ¼ PAGE (4 ¼” x 5 ½”) – $125* BUSINESS CARD – $50 (as submitted “IN HONOR OF” – $25 (Submit name to be honored, with your name and relationship) Send camera-ready ads by email, MIA101925@aol.com, if possible. Mail hard-copy, with payment, to: National League of POW/MIA Families 5673 Columbia Pike, Suite 100 Falls Church, VA 22041 703-465-7432 Deadline: June 1, 2015*Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters, Updates & Registration for the 46th Annual Meeting. **Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters & Updates The League is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization; Federal Tax ID #23-7071242 NEWSLETTER: APRIL 5, 2014AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: There are 1,642 personnel listed by the Department of Defense (DoD) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, a number that had not changed since October of last year. Very recently, the name of Captain Douglas Ferguson, USAF, listed as MIA in Laos on December 30, 1969, was released. Captain Ferguson’s remains were recovered April 13, 2013, and identified February 14, 2014. The number of Americans announced by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 941. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and ID’d before the end of the war, bring the official total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,004. Of the 1,642 unaccounted-for personnel, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,275 (VN-469, VS-806); Laos-307; Cambodia-53; PRC territorial waters-7; over-water losses on DoD’s list of No Further Pursuit cases number well over 600. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DIRECTS ACTION: Entitled “DoD Structure for Past Conflict Personnel Accounting,” the signed February 20th directive was addressed to all senior officials in the Department of Defense, as follows: “After intensive review, I have determined that the Department of Defense must change the way it manages accounting for personnel missing from past conflicts. I have directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to provide me, within 30 days, a plan for how to organize the Department most effectively to increase to the maximum extent possible the numbers of missing Service personnel accounted for annually while ensuring timely and accurate information is provided to their families. This plan should address organizational and process changes required to consolidate all Departmental assets into a single, accountable entity that has oversight of all personnel accounting resources, research, and operations across the Department. It should propose methods to maximize the number of identifications, improve transparency for families, reduce duplicative functions, and establish a system for centralized, complete, fully accessible personnel case files for missing personnel. At a minimum, this plan should articulate recommendations for changes to the civilian and military personnel policies, contracting and acquisition policies, statutory and regulatory authorities, facilities, budgets, and procedures to ensure effective oversight of laboratory operations. This effort should be informed by past studies and reviews. The Military Departments, Combatant Commands, and OSD Components shall provide the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy with all information and materials needed for this planning effort. This is a top priority for the Department. I am deeply committed to the fullest extent possible the accounting for missing Servicemembers. Upon receipt of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy’s plan, I am prepared to direct changes to use the Department’s resources for this mission more effectively and efficiently.” League Chairman of the Board Comment: Secretary Hagel’s welcome action gave a short-term deadline to the senior official he selected to lead the POW/MIA accounting community reorganization effort – recently confirmed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD/SOLIC) Michael Lumpkin, retired Naval officer and former SEAL Commander. Assistant Secretary Lumpkin, also serving as Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD-P), provided his recommendations to Secretary Hagel before the end of March. Secretary Lumpkin held an in-process review of where things stood with major national veteran organizations and the League to follow-up a teleconference briefing he provided prior to Secretary Hagel’s directive announcement. The League looks forward to actions that will finally correct systemic dysfunction. DEFENSE SECRETARY ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO POW/MIA ACCOUNTING EFFORT: Taken from the verbatim transcript of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s press briefing on March 31st: “Let me now turn to another matter before taking your questions, and that is the finding and recovering and identifying the remains of America’s missing from past conflicts. This effort is not just a top priority for the Department of Defense; it’s our responsibility and our obligation. In February, I directed the acting undersecretary of defense for policy, Mike Lumpkin, to provide me with recommendations on how to reorganize the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command or otherwise known as JPAC, so that DOD could more effectively account for our missing personnel and ensure their families receive timely and accurate information. Based on his recommendations, I’ve directed the department to undertake the following steps to reorganize this effort into a single, accountable organization that has complete oversight of personnel accounting resources, research and operations. First, we will establish a new Defense agency that combines the Defense Prisoners of War, Missing Personnel Office, or otherwise known as DPMO, the JPAC office, and select functions of the U.S. Air Force’s Life Scientists Equipment Laboratory. This agency will be overseen by the undersecretary of defense for policy. By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency, and build a stronger, more transparent and more responsive organization. All communications with family members of the missing from past conflicts will be managed and will be organized by this new agency. Second, to streamline the identification process, an armed forces medical examiner, working for the new agency, will be single — will be the single DOD identification authority. They will oversee the scientific operations of the central identification laboratory in Hawaii and other laboratories in Omaha and Dayton. Third, to centralize budgetary resources for this important mission, we will work with Congress torealign its appropriations into a single budget. Fourth, to improve the search, recovery and identification process, the department will implement a centralized database and case management system, containing all missing service members’ information. Fifth, I’ve directed the department to develop proposals for expanding public/private partnerships in identifying our missing. The goal is to leverage the capabilities and the efforts of organizations outside of government that responsibly work to account for our missing. 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. We will continue to do everything we can to account for and bring as many of our missing and fallen service personnel as possible home here to the United States. We’ve been listening to and consulting with veterans’ service organizations about how to improve the department’s MIA operations. And I appreciate, we all appreciate, their input and their support to ensure the full accounting of all of our country’s missing service members. And we will continue to work closely together as we go forward. I want to particularly thank Mike Lumpkin and his team for their efforts. And I also want to thank the veterans’ organizations who have been so important over so many years to this effort. And in particularly – in particular, I want to thank Ann Mills Griffiths of the National League of Families, for her many, many years of service and leadership on this project. Ann came to see me last December. I’ve known Ann and worked with her for over 30 years on many projects. And she presented to me a five-page, single-spaced, well thought through (memo), first, identification of the issues; a framing of the problems; and I thought some very, very solid recommendations on how we go forward. So she deserves a lot of credit. Her organization deserves credit, as well as the institutions and veterans organizations that have been key to this effort for many years. Thank you. I’d be glad to respond to questions.” Question from Journalist:“Mr. Secretary, on that — on that last issue, how does all this address the basic demand of the families of the missing that you provide faster and more reliable accounting? And if I may throw in a second question, if you don’t mind, could you confirm the reports that the Russians have begun pulling forces back from the border with Ukraine?” Secretary Hagel’s Reply:“Well, on the first question, Bob, I think if you really break this down as to what we’ve done here, as to how it relates to the families, we’re streamlining everything. We’re streamlining the organization, the process and the resources. And what that means to families is, first, they will be communicated with clearly, directly, and it will be communications from one central location. That has not been the case. They’ll have a place where they can go to identify updates, questions, concerns. And it won’t be a one-way street. It will be a two-way street. We’ll communicate with them. I think another reason the families will strongly support what we’re doing is it helps us do the job. It helps us get the mission accomplished. We’ve got tens of thousands of missing all over the world. And it’s a difficult — it’s a very difficult mission. And if we put together a better institution, organization, better management, better structure, better use of our resources, then I hope we’ll be far more effective in being able to accomplish the mission of identifying these missing remains and getting these missing remains brought home to the families. So, I’m much encouraged, and I again want to say how much we all appreciate the good work that’s been done here. There’s — there’s not a more poignant, emotional, important issue in our society today, and you all know this, than you take care of the people who gave their lives to this country, and you take care of their families. And that has been a critical component of who we are as Americans from — from beginning — from the beginning of this republic.” League Chairman of the Board Comment: Secretary of Defense Hagel’s decision on March 31st to take dramatic steps to completely reorganize DoD’s POW/MIA accounting effort is encouraging, and I appreciated the positive comments the Secretary made about the role the League and I have played over the decades. Importantly, his commendation reinforces the League going forward in case, as in most such reorganization endeavors, things start going off-track. As President Reagan admonished, “Trust, but verify!” Though a very positive development with serious promise, the real tests, as well as potential dangers, will be in implementation, but I’m cautiously optimistic. Much depends on who is selected to be the civilian political-appointee Director of this new DoD Agency and flag/general officer Deputy Director, as well as a third senior official, possibly Vice Director, to head the DC-based element. The plan is to bring in “outside” leadership, so we’ll see. The challenges are complex and so will be the solutions. Many factors led to Secretary Hagel’s March 31st announcement and, clearly, he found helpful and instructive the League’s background memo and reorganization plan provided last December 4th. There undoubtedly were many other inputs from individuals, organizations and Congress, but few have the League’s four decades of experience, knowledge and consistent dedication to the accounting mission. In reality, the League has the greatest direct involvement in Secretary Lumpkin’s recommendations and Secretary Hagel’s resulting decisions, but many thousands will be affected by the ultimate outcome, including those serving our nation today. It is important to have the chain of command at the same level (USD-P) as other DoD agencies. Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin has made it his mission to know the specifics and seems to seriously care about getting it right, as does Secretary Hagel. The Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), the League and other family representatives had a follow-up meeting with Secretary Lumpkin on April 3rd. The intention was to obtain further clarification, but decisions on details, such as personnel changes, are not yet decided, though a transition team has already been formed. This team has been given only 45 days to come up with timelines and goals to be achieved, heading toward full activation of the new agency by FY2015, if possible. Patience will be required, but all can expect significant attention to this subject at the League’s 45th Annual Meeting, June 11-14th. Acting USD-P Lumpkin has already confirmed participation in the Opening Session, and Secretary of Defense Hagel has been invited for the 45th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony. (45th Annual Meeting Registration Form 2014). VFW MEDIA RELEASE: “We appreciate Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s personal involvement toreshape a multi-organizational structure that shares unity of purpose into one that also shares unity of command,” said William A. Thien, a Vietnam veteran and national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Over the next 18 months, a Pentagon team will examine the requirements necessary to merge policy guidance, archival research and analysis, and worldwide field investigations and recovery operations into one organization. Those tasks are currently performed by the Defense POW/MIA Office, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and portions of the Air Force Life Science Equipment Laboratory. Also being realigned is the scientific element of the mission, which moves JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory under the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, which already encompasses the Armed Forces DNA Laboratory. Included in the new look will be a centralized budget, a consolidated case management system, and expanded public-private partnerships. (The above was excerpted from a release dated March 31, 2014, put out by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US.) LAOS & US HOLD POW/MIA CONSULTATIONS: On February 28th, JPAC Commander Major General Kelly McKeague, USAF, led a US delegation for talks in Vientiane. Discussions were positive and affirmed the significant maturity that has evolved over decades, with real exchanges and dialogue. Due to complex technical questions and specific arrangements required for field operations, greater formality had continued at the technical level. All are to be commended for bringing this constructive dialogue into a more suitable, cordial atmosphere, in keeping with today’s bilateral relationship. FIELD OPERATIONS: With budget agreement finally reached in Congress, JPAC conducted a Joint Field Activity (JFA) in Laos January 14th to February 17th, fielding three Recovery Teams (RTs) and one Investigation Team (IT), augmented by the DIA Stony Beach specialist. A longer JFA in Laos began March 4th and is expected to conclude April 14th, though with only one RT and one IT. It also appears that the next JFA in Laos will be comprised of only two RTs and one IT. Operations in Cambodia by one RT and one Underwater Recovery Team (URT), postponed twice in 2013, took place January 28th to April 2nd. Since the Stony Beach specialist is permanently in-country and conducts investigations whenever needed, there are no ITs scheduled in conjunction with the JFA. Four RTs began conducting operations in Vietnam on February 28th and concluded on March 27th. Two ITs also deployed on this JFA, plus the RIT (Research Investigation Team) and a Field Forensic Review (FFR). 45TH ANNUAL MEETING IS CRUCIAL: The 45th Annual Meeting will be held June 11–14th at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel. Having recently been informed of Secretary Hagel’s decision on completely reorganizing the POW/MIA accounting process, this national convention will be the first opportunity to receive a full explanation, with family members afforded the opportunity to raise questions. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL POSSIBLE MEMBERS ATTEND! Make plans now to be with us. 45th Annual Meeting Registration Form 2014 COIN Assist transportation – Congressionally mandated, DoD-directed and Service-provided – will once again be available for two family members per man still missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War to attend. Funding, personnel and leadership changes and challenges within the POW/MIA community ensure information provided during the briefings and panels will be critical and will affect every interested family member. As noted above, the Keynote Speaker at the Opening Session on Thursday, June 12th, 9 a.m. is Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD-P) Michael Lumpkin, the senior DoD official directed by the Secretary of Defense to develop recommendations on how best to achieve “complete reorganization” of DoD’s POW/MIA accounting effort. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is invited as guest speaker for the 45th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony. Two full days of presentations by current and former US officials and noted private experts will occur, as will official briefings from analytic personnel, field operators, scientists and guest presenters on the complete range of issue-related policy and operational matters. This year’s program also includes special workshops on Friday, June 13th, both before and after the Service-hosted Luncheons. A three-hour Q&A session with working-level officials from DPMO, JPAC, DIA’s Stony Beach Team, AFDIL and LSEL will be held on Saturday morning, June 14th, followed by the League Business Session. It is imperative that family members make travel arrangements to ensure participation at the business meeting and be available to vote on policy resolutions geared toward developing League positions about the way forward to achieve our shared accounting mission. Registration: To register for the 45th Annual Meeting, 45th Annual Meeting Registration Form 2014 information on the workshops and the 2014 Program Ad Rate flyer appear on the second page. PLEASE COMPLETE BOTH pages. League members (family and associate), please complete and return the form to the League office with your check covering the cost of meeting registration and dinner (if you choose to attend). Credentials for the meeting will be available for pick-up Wednesday, June 11th from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the Crystal Room Foyer, Plaza Level. Orientation for newcomers will be held that same day from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. in Patrick Henry Executive Boardroom, First Floor. The cost to register for the meeting only is $50.00. If so inclined, your bank’s “bill-pay” program or PayPal can be used to submit payment for registration, thus saving check-writing, stamps, and time. Special Events: On Wednesday, June 11th, those who have picked up credentials are eligible to attend the US Army’s Twilight Tattoo at historic Fort Myer. Bus transportation will be available starting at 5:30 p.m. The 45th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 12th. For those inviting guests to the dinner, the cost will be $55 per person. A Strolling Strings Concert and non-denominational service have been arranged for Friday, June 13th, at the close of that day’s session, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The final event will be a Talent Show & Game Night. This event, on Saturday, June 14th, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., will feature various team and individual games, as well as free pizza and a no-host bar. All are welcome to attend and bring friends and family. Reservations: This year, the hotel rate for rooms at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel is $149.00 (plus tax), per room, per night – single or double, with an added charge of $20 per night for each additional adult. To make reservations, call 800-HILTONS (800-445-8667), noting affiliation with the League’s 45th Annual Meeting. You can also go to www.hilton.com and use the code “MIA2014.” Deadline to secure the special rate is May 16th. The room-block is limited so early reservations are encouraged. If you have any problems with reservations, please contact the national office, 703-465-7432. Transportation: As stipulated by Congress, the Secretary of Defense will again authorize COIN Assist transportation for two family members of each Vietnam War missing and unaccounted-for serviceman or civilian to attend. Service Casualty Officers will be sending information to the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK) about the 45th Annual Meeting and forms to complete for requesting COIN Assist transportation, case file reviews, and attendance at Service-hosted Luncheons. In authorizing COIN Assist, original Congressional intent was to ensure that each missing American would be represented at the League’s annual meetings. Please help spread the word: All family members are eligible to attend the League’s annual meeting at which official government briefings will be given. Some League events are open only to those who register for the full League 45th Annual Meeting. If you have questions, call the national office, 703-465-7432. Boutique: This year, the Boutique will be held in the Old Dominion Executive Board Room, Plaza Level. In view of the tremendous success in years past, the League is again seeking suitable items for display or purchase. Please be selective. Either bring the item(s) with you and deliver them to League officials at registration or send them to the League office. Please include an itemized list noting each item’s value. If you are interested in learning more about suggested donations or items that have sold well in the past, request a list from the national office, 703-465-7432. Commemorative Program: Each year, the League publishes a special program that includes individual “ads” honoring missing US personnel, organizational ads with best wishes to the families gathered for the meeting, ads promoting POW/MIA-related and other products, etc. The 8th page of this newsletter provides the 2014 Program Ad Rates. The deadline for receipt of ads is close of business on May 16th. Email your camera-ready ad to Betty Bartels Murphy, MIA101925@aol.com, orOffice Administrator Leslie Swindells, firstname.lastname@example.org, and mail a copy with payment (or a PayPal receipt) to the national office. Meet Your Congressman: It is more important than ever that elected Representatives and Senators know what POW/MIA family members, veterans and concerned citizens want from Congress regarding the accounting issue. If you plan to participate in Congressional visits this year, make your appointment now, and plan to arrive in Washington, DC, one day early, on Tuesday, June 10th, to beavailable on the morning of Wednesday, June 11th to meet with Chairman Mark Stephensen, Treasurer, Board member and Region IV Coordinator to obtain talking points to raise and materials with current information to provide during your visits with officials on Capitol Hill. ONE MORE THING – VIETNAM WAR CASE-COORDINATION PROCESS: US Officials from DPMO, JPAC, LSEL and DIA (Stony Beach) met in Hawaii February 24-28th for the 48th Case Coordination Conference to determine the way ahead for nearly 400 of the 1,642 US personnel still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The process involves analysts and field investigators meeting for discussion and review of all available information on as many cases as either DPMO or JPAC analysts believe are prepared in terms of pursuing further action that could bring accountability. This process demonstrates that despite whatever dysfunction may occur within the leadership, the process involving Vietnam War accounting is relatively sophisticated, and one can only hope that those conducting archival research to retrieve information from US archives related to WWII losses will develop as outstanding a working relationship as has long existed among the talented Vietnam War-related professionals who work together productively and well. It is understood that this time, other senior JPAC officials observed the coordination process and gained a better understanding of how the two different RA components in DPMO and JPAC are complimentary, not a duplication of effort, as often alleged, an invaluable lesson that one hopes the many officials recently conducting investigations and assessments fully recognize. 45th Annual Meeting Registration Form 2014
Newsletter: December 19, 2013 AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: There are now 1,643 personnellisted by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Since the 44th Annual Meeting in June, DPMO has posted the following identifications: Major Howard V. Andre, Jr., USAF, TN, KIA/BNR, LA, 7/8/69, RR 6/1/10 Specialist 5th Class John L. Burgess, USA, MI, KIA/BNR, SVN, 6/30/70, RR 4/10/12 Major Luis F. Guillerman, USAFR, PA, MIA, LA, 4/30/68, RR 2/14/06 Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael B. Judd, USN, OH, KIA/BNR, SVN, 6/30/67, RR 6/25/12 Colonel Francis J. McGouldrick, Jr., USAF, CT, MIA, LA, 12/13/68, RR 5/22/12 Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Pietsch, USAF, OH, MIA, LA, 4/30/68, RR 8/2/06 Major James E. Sizemore, USAF, CA, KIA/BNR, LA, 7/8/69, RR 6/1/10 Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods, USA/SF, TN, KIA/BNR, SVN, 10/24/64, RR 4/13/10 The number of Americans announced by DPMO as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 940. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the official total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,003. Of the 1,643 unaccounted-for personnel, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,275 (VN-469, VS-806); Laos-308; Cambodia-53; PRC territorial waters-7; over-water losses on DPMO’s list of No Further Pursuit cases number well over 600. LEAGUE CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths met on December 4th with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to discuss the way ahead for the entire accounting community. The Secretary pledged to carefully review the background memo and proposed reorganization that Mills-Griffiths provided, and the Secretary promised to respond to the League. The discussion was direct and intense, based on shared history on the issue, and demonstrated the Secretary’s awareness of many challenges that require his attention. Chairman’s Comment: Recognizing the growing negative impact on Vietnam War accounting caused by the US bureaucracy’s internal dysfunction and bias in pursing accounting objectives, the League leadership determined the need to develop a cohesive structure to reorganize the entire effort. Critical hearings held on August 1st in the House and Senate reinforced the urgency of moving quickly due to investigations and assessments demanded by Congress. Hearings are the usual outcome of lawmakers’ frustrations in seeking answers to questions. Sadly, some interest is based on unverified, misleading accusations from biased, relatively uninformed individuals. Whether or not helpful to the accounting mission, further hearings will be held after the first of the year. Rather than awaiting results from ongoing internal investigations and assessments, and based on decades of experience dealing with successive organizations and administrations, suggestions were sought from former and current US officials known to be firmly committed to the mission. The task was made more critical by negative media focused on the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), the operational core of the mission that, with its predecessor organizations, has overcome countless obstacles, foreign and domestic, to achieve the success recorded above. Other than the League and officials in the Reagan Administration, few thought possible that accountability would be obtained on so many of our missing men, once again proving that success can be achieved with unified determination. We now await the Secretary’s decision on reorganization. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN PLEDGE SUPPORT: On September 20th, in remarks at the Pentagon’s ceremony commemorating National POW/MIA Recognition day, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stated in part, “Words and promises cannot make the lingering uncertainty, the headache, and the heartache go away. But I hope it provides comfort to know that as long as members of our Armed Forces remain unaccounted for, the Department of Defense will do everything – whatever we can to find them and bring them home….we will not rest until we fulfill this pledge – no matter how long it takes…..Today, as the POW/MIA flag is raised in communities across America, we pledge to live by its creed, ‘You are not Forgotten.’” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey, USA, speaking at the Pentagon, stated in part, “…..a special welcome to the families of those still missing in action and all who remain dedicated to bringing them home. It’s a great honor to share this day with you… I am also inspired by the efforts of the countless individuals …….who continue the search for those missing in action….Their efforts reach deep into the four corners of the globe, into foreign lands far from home….. Today, as we fly the familiar black and white flag across our country, it’s not only a symbol to remember the POW and MIA community, it’s a charge – to keep faith with every prisoner of war, those still missing in action, their families, and our military community … to remain undaunted by time and undeterred by challenges… wherever our missing lie, wherever a prisoner waits, we will remain committed to freeing them….to not rest.… to not call our mission complete … not until our family is whole again.” US-RUSSIA JOINT COMMISSION ON POW/MIA AFFAIRS (USRJC) FINALLY POISED FOR ACTION: On December 11th, US Co-Chairman of the USRJC called a meeting of US Commissioners and staff to update the Commissioners and discuss the way ahead. VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace, former USRJC Executive Secretary, now League Advisor on Russia and the former USSR, Norm Kass, and League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths were also invited to attend. This was the first USRJC meeting in over two years, and the first since US Co-Chairman General Robert “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret), was formally re-named by the President and reinforced in his position by the Secretary of Defense, who also designated him a special employee of the Defense Department, primarily for logistical support. The newly named, long overdue replacement for former Senate Democrat, now Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a very welcome addition; however, the Honorable Joe Manchin (D-WV) was unable to get away from Senate business, despite the USRJC session being held in the Russell Senate Office Building. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Representative Tim Walz (D-NE) were present and contributed significantly; however the Honorable Sam Johnson (R-TX), a returned Vietnam War POW, was unable to make it due to hearing conflicts. The State Department’s Commissioner, Ambassador Paul W. Jones, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, was present and promises to be actively engaged. He has prior service at US Embassy Moscow, as well as in Southeast Asia, most recently serving as US Ambassador to Malaysia. The night before the meeting, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) Montague Winfield was formally named a DoD Commissioner, as was the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Mark Handy. Dr. Tim Nenninger, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), will continue serving as a Commissioner, another positive. Mr. Stephen Aldridge, National Security Staff, and Acting USRJC Executive Secretary Dr. James Connell, DPMO, put things together, with active support and assistance of congressional staff, additional DPMO staff and the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD), now cut to only four positions in DPMO, led by Rich Lyda, previously Deputy Chief of JCSD-Moscow. The current Moscow Chief is Major Rob Patterson, USA, ably assisted by four Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs). The very talented linguist and capable Foreign Affairs Specialist, Svetlana Shevchenko, was illogically removed from her JCSD position by DASD Winfield and assigned to DPMO’s External Affairs Directorate, focusing on liaison with Congress, family members and veterans, a move reminiscent of the illogical and damaging transfer of Senior Vietnam War Analyst Gary Sydow that resulted in his resignation. As to future USRJC direction, the immediate need is for Russian President Vladimir Putin to name a Russian Co-Chairman as counterpart to General Foglesong. Reportedly, President Putin intends to name someone soon and the delay is simply bureaucratic; however, that remains to be seen. The US and Russia have serious and substantive differences at present; however, this issue is one on which both countries should be able to work together toward achieving humanitarian objectives despite other political challenges. It is hoped that all senior US officials will note to their Russian counterparts that it is time to resume this humanitarian channel for cooperation. Chairman’s Comment: We commend General Foglesong for his extraordinary patience over the last few years, during which little action occurred. The League is hopeful that, at long last, the USRJC will resume its important mission. Other USRJC Congressional members who have shown extraordinary patience are Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Tim Walz (D-MN) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The League appreciates the patience these Commissioners have shown and is grateful for their tenacity and determination to help and looks forward to Senator Manchin’s contributions. If President Putin can quickly name a Russian Co-Chair, and with the significant addition of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the USRJC may finally be sufficiently restored to contribute as intended. Sadly, that will be without skilled, principled former officials who spent years supporting and fighting for the USRJC’s mission, dedicated professionals such as Norm Kass, Roger Schumaker and Dave Martin – all forced out of their JCSD positions by a former DPMO Director. PRESIDENT OBAMA REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT: At Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, the President made remarks, after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, affirming his commitment by stating in part ………”And that’s why, on this day, we remember our sacred obligation to those who laid down their lives so we could live ours: to finish the job these men and women started by keeping our promise to those who wear America’s uniform – to give our troops the resources they need; to keep faith with our veterans and their families, now and always; to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or who are held as prisoners of war.” VIETNAM: In a very important development, Vietnamese President Sang led a large delegation to Washington in mid-July, during which Presidents Sang and Obama met at the White House. Senior Vietnamese leaders met with counterpart officials at the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce and Veterans Affairs, and with Members of Congress. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a luncheon at the State Department in honor of President Sang and his delegation, and the League Chairman of the Board attended that function, as well as a meeting of Vietnamese and US veterans. Vice Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc, former Director of the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP), recently led another Vietnamese delegation to DC for bilateral Policy Security Defense Dialogue (PSDD) talks, another step in the rapidly expanding bilateral relationship. In another important development, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defense LTG Nguyen Chi Vinh was again in Washington, DC, for October 29th bilateral Defense Policy Dialogue. In response to a League request, Minister Vinh and his delegation agreed to meet with Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths on Sunday, October 27th. After thanking Minister Vinh for taking the time to meet and for significant improvements in cooperation, particularly since 2009, including increased provision of archival documents, access to previously restricted areas, and improved quality and professionalism of SRV participants working with US counterparts, Mills-Griffiths highlighted two areas on which support was needed: 1) agreement for the US to field additional teams in the central highlands where most of the remaining losses occurred, and 2) agreement for the two DIA Stony Beach POW/MIA investigation specialists to be permanently assigned at the US Embassy. Minister Vinh stated 1) he had brought more documents sought by the US to turn over to DoD officials, 2) agreed to additional US personnel operating in the central provinces, and 3) that he saw no problem with permanent stationing of the two DIA specialists, providing their mission was clear, i.e. focused solely on POW/MIA-related information, indicating it should simply be handled as other assignments to the US Embassy. Minister Vinh asked for additional US emphasis on, and support for, addressing “war legacy issues,” including de-mining and humanitarian assistance for the disabled and their families, and for information that might help locate Vietnamese who died and whose remains are not yet recovered. He suggested that bilateral US-Vietnam cooperation on the humanitarian accounting mission should serve as an example to the world of what can be accomplished by working together on such matters. In a post-DoD meeting wrap-up, observers reported that Minister Vinh indicated there were no barriers to his government’s willingness to assist and again suggested publicizing the success of bilateral US-Vietnam cooperation on the humanitarian accounting mission. Chairman’s Comments: There was noticeable warmth and responsiveness during discussions with the Deputy Defense Minister, a willingness to cooperate that has been evident to the League since 2009 and, along with the improved level of cooperation, there has also been a significant increase in the capability and capacity of working level officials, clearly having received authorization and encouragement from their leadership. These welcome developments, especially pledges of unfettered cooperation by a senior MND official like LTG Nguyen Chi Vinh, bode well for achieving greater success on Vietnam War accounting, so long as the US Congress provides funding to sustain scheduled operations and long-established commitments. Of course, Vietnam also needs to fulfill pledges and continue to work toward increasing results. DPMO Director Visits Southeast Asia: In mid-May, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Montague Winfield visited Vietnam (including a field recovery site), Laos and Cambodia for talks with senior officials in each country. Assuming that points raised in each country were those prepared in advance, DASD Winfield’s visit was useful in reinforcing the importance that US officials, in particular the POW/MIA accounting community and the American people, attach to achieving longstanding League accounting objectives. DASD Winfield stopped briefly at JPACHeadquarters in Hawaii en route home. US-Vietnam POW/MIA Consultations took place September 26th, led by Major General Kelly McKeague, USAF, JPAC Commander, with DPMO, DIA’s Stony Beach and Embassy-Hanoi participation. A special commemorative dinner was held the night before to celebrate twenty-five years of steadily improving, regularized and expanding POW/MIA cooperation. Although invited to attend, the League’s Chairman of the Board regretted and sent a letter that was read aloud and, according to the JPAC Commander, well received. The Joint Field Activity (JFA) in Vietnam, scheduled for November, was initially postponed due to the lack of funding. Once agreement was reached on a Continuing Resolution to temporarily fund the government, the Vietnam JFA was back on, though significantly reduced in scope. JPAC’s Detachment Two did the best they could with the situation and just completed their final joint field operations in Vietnam for this year. CAMBODIA: Consultations were held September 30th in Phnom Penh, also led by the JPAC Commander, with DPMO, DIA’s Stony Beach and Embassy-Phnom Penh participation. Hopefully, the legal obstacles raised by the US bureaucracy will not recur to pose further difficulties for JPAC teams and counterpart Cambodian officials who, though puzzled, have been most patient. The long-delayed JFA in Cambodia was scheduled to take place from October 23 – December 6thbut was again postponed. Field operations in Cambodia by two Recovery Teams (RTs) and one Underwater Recovery Team (URT) were postponed twice this year. LAOS: On August 16th, US-Lao Bilateral POW/MIA Consultations, led by the JPAC Commander, with Embassy-Vientiane and DPMO representatives participating, were held in Vientiane, Laos. The talks were the most productive such discussions in quite some time. At long last, the Lao Government agreed to allow the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Stony Beach POW/MIA specialist to pursue field investigations year-round, on an as-needed basis. Details are now being worked out between officials of the two governments. Lao Government responsiveness to specific appeals, including on Stony Beach, contracting the use of smaller helicopters and on-site base-camping, are in keeping with the improved political, economic and military relationship. This latter agreement was to have been tested during the October 16 – November 19th JFA that was postponed due to the lack of funding. The first JFA for FY2014 has been rescheduled for January 14th – February 17th, now thatCongress has passed a budget, and providing PACOM doesn’t again “borrow” JPAC funds.If current plans hold and funds are available, the smaller helicopters are scheduled to be used. US Ambassador to Laos Dan Clune, previously confirmed by the US Senate, was formally sworn in at the State Department on August 27th, a ceremony attended by League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths. Chairman’s Comments: The League deeply appreciates Laos’ responsiveness to specific appeals for the favorable decisions on Stony Beach participation, though there are challenges yet to be overcome, helicopter contracting, and on-site base-camping, and we look forward to a renewed pace of operations, now that US funding is available and can be sustained. Ambassador Clune has hard shoes to fill replacing Ambassador Karen Stewart, who was serving her third assignment in Laos. Her knowledge of, and commitment to, the POW/MIA accounting mission was most helpful and will be sorely missed. Ambassador Clune is an experienced, impressive career Foreign Service Officer who has already demonstrated his commitment to serving our country, and I look forward to working closely with him. WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS: JPAC regularly deploys teams worldwide and continues to expand into more countries, seeking to recover remains of US personnel who served and sacrificed for our country during WWII, the Korean War and the Cold War. JPAC’s permanent team in South Korea meets regularly with South Korean counterparts and conducts operations in the South, though access is still denied into North Korea. Operations took place in Germany and Burma/Myanmar; cooperation in planning for the latter mission was reportedly outstanding, including good public reaction to a “hot line” set up for source reporting. JPAC teams also deployed to the Philippines, Solomon Islands, other European countries, Palau and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Phase Two Testing (P2T) in India, also on WWII sites, was scheduled May 8th – June 7th, but postponed by the Government of India. JPAC also hosted a team of Chinese archivists from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on May 21-22nd, and a team will resume work in PNG February 2 – March 18th. The League is proud and grateful that our work since 1970 has helped bring about the enormous effort now ongoing and strongly supports such efforts, so long as the fullest possible accounting for Vietnam War missing personnel is not reduced or jeopardized. GAO REPORT: ACCOUNTING COMMUNITY DYSFUNCTIONAL: The congressionally mandated study by the General Accountability Office (GAO) completed its year-long investigation into all aspects of the accounting community. Though not as in-depth and penetrating as some might have hoped, the outcome was objective, with some recommendations that warrant attention and corrective action. To complicate matters, an internal draft study by a temporary ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science & Education) fellow, Dr. Paul Cole, hired by JPAC’s Lab leadership, was earlier leaked to House Armed Services Committee (HASC) staff, then to AP journalist Bob Burns, timed to coincide with release of the GAO Report. Unfortunately, there was over-reaction at the highest levels in DoD, due to their distance from the issue and ignorance of its current status. The resulting clamor brought about hearings in the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Subcommittee on Military Personnel and the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Subcommittee on Financial Contracting and Oversight. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) heard testimony from DPMO Director/Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Montague Winfield, JPAC Commander Major General Kelly McKeague, USAF, and Chief of the Artifact Section, Life Science Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) John Goines. Both Senators made clear that they are focused sharply on the GAO recommendations, chief among them the recommendation for reorganization to ensure a single chain of command, streamlined and with one commander at the top. Also made clear was that if the accounting community could not agree on how to proceed, the Senate would provide its own solution to get the job done. There was no patience for the infighting and dysfunction that has plagued the POW/MIA accounting community since 1992 and prevented a unified effort to develop the capability and capacity to increase identifications to at least 200 per year, as called for in the FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill. (As requested by Chairman McCaskill, League Chairman Ann Mills-Griffiths provided a Statement for Record that is available on the League’s website or by request to the League office.) The HASC Subcommittee hearing called Dr. Cole and a GAO official to testify on the results of their respective assessments, though the Cole study, entitled “Information Value Chain,” was much earlier denounced in its entirety by former JPAC Commander MG Stephen Tom, USA. Just after the leak to AP, the League posted the following statement on its website: “Months ago, Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths, and League Policy Advisor Richard Childress reviewed the report regarding JPAC that was authored by Paul Cole. The report and the assertions made in it reflect little more than a power-play within the organization. Recommendations made by Cole, if followed, would have set back efforts of the accounting community in a drastic way. The League continues to support the efforts to achieve the fullest possible accounting and the work being done by each of the agencies in support of that mission – including JPAC.” JPAC PUBLIC AFFAIRS PRACTICE: Investigative NBC journalist Bill Dedman recently published a story on what he touts as JPAC’s “fake” arrival ceremonies. JPAC’s attempt to honor those recovered by re-enacting a formal arrival ceremony should be recognized as well-intentioned, rendering honor to Americans missing from our nation’s past wars and conflicts, not as any malevolent attempt to deceive. Chairman’s Comments: JPAC’s determination to keep the issue visible is based on several factors, including the need to sustain adequate funding and personnel levels, but practical considerations (such as cost) also impacted the decision process. In reality, JPAC was re-enacting what used to be real-time ceremonies, by transporting flag-draped transfer cases (caskets), returned at various times in preceding weeks/months (often in the middle of the night), then taken back to the tarmac, inviting the media and local veterans, and holding the “arrival ceremony” with all the tradition and formality earned by those being honored. The “sham” was that they had arrived earlier and the timing was staged. Was it smart? Not really! Was it well-intended? Yes, but it was also short-sighted and misled those attending. The current poisonous environment of unproven accusations, investigations, legal actions and EEO complaints further undercut JPAC, the command at the heart of the accounting process and the organization that the families strongly support. It is sad, but this relative “hiccup” should not be allowed to destroy confidence in the quality of in-country investigations, interviews, surveys or analyses, nor the identification process, i.e. the end-result. Over-reactions by uninformed senior US officials and concerned citizens were unfortunate, but demonstrate why DoD needs to develop carefully thought out programs to educate currently serving military and civilian officials. Such programs should be available worldwide, throughout the US Government bureaucracy and the Services, to signal that America stands behind those who serve, including if captured or missing, with briefings on what is now taking place, and with which countries, to account for those who served our country and didn’t return. As President Reagan said long ago, this truly IS a noble mission, and nations around the world are copying the US effort as their own citizens now demand. ANOTHER HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE PROPOSED: Representative Michelle Bachman (R-MN), recently introduced H. Resolution 231, requiring ”a select committee to be known as the Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs” to be formed. This Select Committee would be charged to “conduct a full investigation of all unresolved matters relating to any United States personnel unaccounted for from the Vietnam era, the Korean conflict, World War II, Cold War Missions, Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation Enduring Freedom, including MIAs and POWs missing and captured.” If formed, this select committee would be empowered to hold hearings, hire staff and conduct interviews for the remainder of the 113thCongress, i.e. until the next election is held for the House of Representatives in November 2014. The League continues to oppose formation of any select committee due to past experience and the likely detrimental impact and would consider supporting such a proposal only as a last resort. In reality, there are already too many ongoing investigations and another one would be absurd, so H. Resolution 231 is very unlikely to be brought to a vote and approved. LEAGUE 44TH ANNUAL MEETING: Although it has already been six months since the 44th Annual Meeting last June, some very significant events and actions occurred that League members need to know. Overall, the meeting was very positive for the issue, including special guest presentations by Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) David Shedd and Deputy PACOM Commander Lt Gen Thomas “Stash” Conant, USMC. Of special significance was the succinct, incisive critique of US efforts by League Senior Policy Advisor Richard T. Childress. The 44th Annual Meeting Dinner was headlined by Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States H.E. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, who brought his government’s strong commitment of willingness to continue to increase cooperation with the US to achieve the League’s accounting objectives. This was the first time Vietnam’s senior representative in the United States had ever been invited to deliver remarks to the POW/MIA families, and the warmth of his reception was evident. The remarks of these four key participants are available on the League’s website or by request to the League office. Chairman’s Comments: The decision to invite Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States to be the 44th Annual Meeting Dinner speaker was carefully considered, but all seemed to feel the time was right. It was! Not only had Vietnam taken steps to expand its cooperation but, since the 2009 League Delegation, had repeatedly offered to increase the pace and scope of field operations. Despite inadequate US responsiveness on POW/MIA matters, it was clear that Vietnam was reaching out and wanted to expand bilateral cooperation. The Ambassador’s remarks were sensitive, direct and compelling, and the audience was most attentive. The significant end-result was positive impact on the families present, as well as US officials, whether or not present to observe the remarks. The warm reception was a credit to the Ambassador, but even more to the families who symbolically recognized how far the mission has progressed since the difficult post-war years. The critique of official US efforts provided by League Senior Advisor Richard T. Childress caused quite a stir. Unsurprisingly, his remarks were very direct, though spoken more in sorrow than in anger. Having served in the US Army for over 25 years, the last eight as Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council under President Reagan, it is disappointing to see the government he served not living up to expectations and standards long established. The distrust, dysfunction and internal destruction were all subjects he raised, and he did so with the humor and grace for which he is known, despite having to articulate such criticisms in public. For his steady vision, wisdom and support, the League is most grateful. The panel discussions and briefings were again very high quality, informative and well-explained, though it was disappointing that no JPAC field operators were present to brief the families, for the first time ever! We were most fortunate to have a full complement of DIA’s Stony Beach specialists with us from each of the Vietnam War target countries. Theirs is a different mission, one of augmenting information-collection through interviews and archival research to integrate into the complex analytic process conducted by JPAC and DPMO analysts. The process is balanced to ensure the best possible outcome in terms of results, and all elements are needed to most effectively pursue shared accounting objectives. DIA’s Stony Beach Team is the ONLY element of the accounting process dedicated solely to the Vietnam War accounting mission as all are trained intelligence collectors and specialists trained in the language and culture of their target country. League Awards: Annually,there is careful consideration about whether awards are warranted and, if so, for whom. League awards are not easily earned and never given just for showing up, rather for extraordinary efforts in support of the accounting mission. This year, there were three, one individual and two organizations, recognized with framed Certificates of Appreciation, each selected unanimously by the League’s Board of Directors: Help Bring Them Home, a small non-profit organization, recently formed to initiate a petition campaign in support of the mission. Laurie Clay and Brian Floyd succeeded and did so with little encouragement or support from their former parent organization. Frank Plescia, Disabled American Veterans, an individual veteran who doesn’t take no for an answer when fighting for what he believes is right, in this case, full and strong support for the accounting mission. Robins AFB POW/MIA Memorial Organization, a phenomenal group of active-duty and retired military that never stops responsibly promoting awareness of the issue, a tremendous service within Georgia and nationally. The League’s highest award is not presented each year, in fact only seven times since originated in 2000. This year, in view of his many years of determination, sacrifice and dedication to the Vietnam War accounting mission, the Distinguished Service Award was presented, in abstentia, to Mr. Gary Sydow. Annual Business Session: The annual business session resulted in four specific policy-related resolutions, as follows: Resolution #1: Resolved, that the Department of Defense policy that defines fullest possible accounting should reflect previously long-standing elements as follows: the return of a live POW, his identifiable remains, or convincing evidence why neither is possible. Unanimously passed. Resolution #2: Resolved, that a full spectrum of investigations, research, analysis and archival initiatives should continue at a vigorous pace, along with the surge in excavations, to ensure that the list of valid excavation sites continues to expand. Unanimously passed. Resolution #3: Resolved, that the League welcomes the new JPAC Commander to the mission, appreciates his attendance at our 44th Annual Meeting, and urges continued, close consultation with the League. Passed, with one abstention. Resolution #4: Resolved, that DPMO should ensure that, under the new organizational structure, the critical functions of research and analysis for Southeast Asia are reinforced with additional resources and personnel. Unanimously passed. BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: The 2013-2015 Board of Directors election results were announced by National Coordinator Lacy Rourke, as was the outcome of the internal Board election of officers from among those elected: Chairman Ann Mills-Griffiths, Vice Chairman Karoni Forrester, Secretary Susie Stephens-Harvey, Treasurer Mark Stephensen, and members Sue Scott, Pam Cain and Eldon Robinson, replacing David Gray, returned POW, who retired after serving 20 years as an elected member of the Board. 45TH ANNUAL MEETING: The 45th Annual Meeting will be held June 12-15, 2014, again at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel, now beautifully renovated, but still working with the League to ensure the most reasonable cost for the Washington, DC, area. Start making plans now to reserve the dates, with travel on Wednesday, June 11th and Sunday, June 16th. We are confident that COIN Assist Transportation will again be available for those authorized. That means two family members per missing man, as designated by the Primary-Next-of-Kin (PNOK). Registration forms and detailed information will be in the February/March League Newsletter and on line at the League’s web site, www.pow-miafamilies.org or on Facebook. LEAGUE DUES ARE NOW PAYABLE: Unless you have paid in advance for 2014, or you are a monthly contributor, it is now time to send in your $25.00 dues for Family and Associate Members. While this isn’t much, it helps in many ways, including showing evidence of specific interest. If you prefer, you can pay dues on line at our web site, via PayPal, but please add $2.00 to cover fees required per transaction. And while you’re at it, send in a donation in honor of your missing loved one or friend, or in memory of someone no longer with us. A donation in honor or in memory of another person is always acknowledged properly by letter. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law; the League is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, federal tax ID number 23-7071242. Chairman’s Assessment: This year’s annual meeting was held amid significant dissension and turmoil that has expanded over the years since DPMO was formed in 1992 as the DoD organization with an assigned role – policy control and oversight of the POW/MIA accounting mission. Instead, DPMO has routinely opted to become operational, to provide policy guidance and oversight for the entire accounting community. Successive DPMO Directors never seemed to fully grasp the importance of policy development and integration, much less providing cogent guidance to the operational community, and thereby lead the entire Accounting Community in cohesive, unified pursuit of the objective – accounting for our missing men. I’m sure most would agree this doesn’t sound too hard or too complicated, but apparently it is. DPMO’s inability to recognize and understand, much less accomplish, its mission was further complicated by increasing internal dysfunction since 2003, when JTF-FA and CIL were merged to form JPAC. At that time, when JPAC was formed with its new Commander, MG Montague Winfield, USA, the Lab leadership, previously operating under administrative and operational control of the CIL Deputy Commander, began to incrementally seek control over the entire accounting process. Initial Lab intrusions into decision-making related to non-scientific matters went unopposed by MG Winfield and, little by little, each incoming JPAC Commander went along with the continued expansion of the Lab leadership’s influence and control. It extended from case selection for excavation and investigation priority, to placing Lab personnel on investigation teams, replicating or trying to replicate functions of the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) and the list goes on, each time with the requirement for control, even participating in functions related to field operations to facilitate control of the reports that family members ultimately receive. While my confidence in the identification process is thus far intact, the accounting process is much more involved and complex than just the final step, i.e. identification. Increasingly, it is the circumstantial evidence and other information, including in-depth analysis of investigation reports by DPMO and JPAC analysts, based on interviews conducted by JPAC and DIA/Stony Beach specialists, LSEL analysis of life support equipment and material evidence recovered in the field, mtDNA comparison of test-material against family member reference samples, all feeding into a circumstantial identification of remains. It is not often that the basis for an ID is forensic analysis of skeletal material which, in today’s Vietnam War recoveries, is often too difficult or impossible to obtain. Bottom line is that credibility of the ID process is absolutely crucial, but in the absence of forensic skeletal analysis to produce a positive ID, the reporting process must be one of checks and balances, utilizing independently obtained evidence and information to compile an ID packet convincing to the families who must know all that is possible and, if no individual ID is achieved, that the US has done its best to account for their missing loved one. I am gravely concerned about continuation of the accounting mission, more so than at any time since immediate post-war struggles, 1975 – 1980. Never have I seen such fear and suspicion on the part of DPMO and JPAC employees. Never before have I seen such distrust among US officials involved in the issue. I am not sanguine about the outcome of all the official investigations and assessments, including by the DoD Inspector General. There is no telling what their recommendations will be or whether they will be accepted by DoD leaders and/or Members of Congress. Rumors abound: DPMO is taking over JPAC; JPAC taking over DPMO; finally, all will be rolled into one mission-focused organization, to include LSEL, under a single commander. The JPAC challenges have already been covered. As to DPMO, there is not a single person long involved and dedicated to the POW/MIA accounting mission who believes that DASD Winfield is focused on achieving Vietnam War accounting objectives. Not a single one! Of course, DPMO employees, of necessity, must also remain anonymous. Suffice to say that DASD Winfield managed to coerce the resignation of senior Vietnam War analyst/linguist/specialist Gary Sydow, replacing him with a newly assigned Air Force Colonel, a helicopter pilot with Afghanistan War credentials and likely an intelligent, qualified line officer. He then renamed the Research Analysis Directorate, naming it the Operations Directorate, slow-rolled support, until very recently, for General “Doc” Foglesong as US Chairman of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs, replaced the long-time Director of Policy, herself a dedicated Vietnam War specialist, with a Navy Captain, again with no background or experience in the mission, but an intelligent capable line officer who will soon be moving on, and the list goes on, and on. DASD Winfield has taken, and continues to take, actions that reduce Vietnam War-related research and analysis expertise and capability. Then you ask yourself, what IS General Winfield trying to accomplish? What IS his mission? JPAC may have its faults, and God knows they stem from the Lab’s inherent quest for power and control, but at least JPAC shares our mission, even if diluted by the Lab’s focus on WWII remains recoveries as the best means of reaching the congressionally mandated goal of 200 IDs per year by 2015. The DPMO Director has no credibility in suggesting that he and his current leadership in DPMO have a transparent plan for the way ahead that is supported, or even supportable. IF a serious plan exists, rather than the platitudes and hyperbole that consistently are published, it is unknown to the National League of POW/MIA Families. Despite my less than positive assessment of where things stand at the end of 2013, I extend to each of you my very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a New Year that is richly blessed with good health, great joy, and answers that bring an end to uncertainty. Ann Mills-Griffiths Chairman of the Board
March 12, 2013 AMERICANS ACCOUNTED-FOR: There are now 1,652 personnellisted by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Since the last League Newsletter, DPMO has posted accounting for the following US personnel previously carried as POW, MIA or KIA/BNR from the Vietnam War: LCpl Merlin R. Allen, USMC, WI, KIA/BNR, 6/30/67, SVN, RR 6/25/12, ID 8/23/12 Pfc Daniel A. Benedett, USMC, WA, KIA/BNR, 5/15/75, CB, RR 8/25/91, ID 1/23/12 LT Richard L. Laws, USN, CA, KIA/BNR, 4/3/66, NVN, RR 11/23/95, ID 1/17/13 The number of Americans announced by DPMO as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 931. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and ID’d before the end of the war, bring the official total of remains repatriated from the Vietnam War to 994. Of the 1,652 missing and unaccounted-for personnel, 90% were lost in Vietnam or areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam–1,278 (VN-469, VS-809); Laos–314; Cambodia–53; PRC territorial waters–7; 450+ over-water losses are among 630 listed by DPMO as No Further Pursuit. US ARMY LEADER VISITS LAOS: The Commander of US Army Pacific Command (USARPAC), LTG Francis “Frank” Wiercenski, USA, recently held talks with the Lao Vice Minister of Defense, an important step in the evolving military-to-military relationship. He was joined in these meetings by US Ambassador to Laos Karen Stewart and Defense Attaché LTC Matthew Kent, USA. In addition to a wider range of bilateral interests, including counternarcotics and demining cooperation, there also was significant discussion on POW/MIA accounting matters. It is important for senior US officials – political, military and economic – to raise US interest in increasing future accounting cooperation, as well as recognizing and stating appreciation for past efforts. This is true in Laos and Vietnam, where incrementally-expanding POW/MIA cooperation since 1982 has played such a central role in the bilateral relationship, as has also been the case in Cambodia, though a bit later due to other issues. JPAC COMMANDER VISITS LAOS: Major General Kelly McKeague, USAF, held useful, cordial consultations with Lao counterparts in Vientiane on February 26th. US Ambassador to Laos Karen Stewart, Det. 3 Commander LTC Chris O’Brien, USA, and other policy and operational specialists from JPAC, DPMO and DIA’s Stony Beach were members of the US Delegation. Logistics issues continue to pose challenges in Laos; however, the Lao Government is finally permitting travel by road (a longstanding request), but lack of reliable helicopter support is still a very serious concern. They also agreed to consider and permit base-camping near excavation sites when requested as necessary. Despite these recent agreements showing improved Lao flexibility, the scale of operations in Laos has dropped significantly. The Joint Field Activity (JFA) conducted January 16 – February 19 consisted of only one Recovery Team (RT) and one Investigation Team (IT), augmented by the Det. 3 Casualty Resolution Specialist and DIA’s Stony Beach Lao specialist. The reasons for JPAC’s decision to reduce the scope of the JFA is unclear, but was not due to a lack of Lao Government cooperation; however, significant increases in the pace and scope of Lao operations will be tough unless and until the Lao Government takes steps to facilitate helicopter support for access to remote sites. (This requires a decision to grant a business license to an outside foreign company which supplies small-scale helicopters that meet US safety requirements.) The JFA now ongoing, March 7 – April 10th, consists of three JPAC RTs and one IT, augmented by the DIA Stony Beach specialist. CAMBODIA FIELD OPERATIONS POSTPONED: Unfortunately, JPAC postponed the Cambodia JFA that was scheduled to begin in early February. The JFA would have consisted of two RTs and one Underwater Recovery Team (URT). JPAC leaders anticipate this will be a relatively short post-ponement in order to resolve some contracting and budget issues, but rescheduling has not yet been announced. As feared, budget issues are affecting planned JFAs worldwide, and JPAC is working hard to minimize adverse impacts and reschedule 2013 operations. OPERATIONS IN VIETNAM: No JFAs took place over the Christmas/New Year holidays, but the level of operations had been relatively high. With the impetus provided by high level visits and resulting commitments, the League was hopeful that the pace and scope of US efforts in Vietnam would be sustained or continue to expand. Time is growing short for getting answers before witnesses are no longer available, remains have disintegrated completely due to acidic soil in the region, or development has destroyed incident sites. Priority investigations on Last Known Alive (LKA) cases are conducted primarily by the Research Investigation Team (RIT), comprised of JPAC Detachment 2 specialists in Hanoi, augmented by DIA’s Stony Beach specialists. The next JFA in Vietnam, planned for March 12 – April 14, will include the five RTs initially scheduled, but the IT was canceled and the RIT was reduced in scope due to lack of funding. A Joint Advance Work (JAW) Team began on March 1st in preparation for arrival of the full JPAC contingent. WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS: A delegation led by Maj Gen McKeague was recently in Beijing, discussing with People’s Republic of China (PRC) officials the need for greater cooperation, primarily on the accounting for Korean War losses, but also some losses related to WWII and specific Vietnam War incidents, as well as archival document support and cooperation. Like Russia, the PRC was actively engaged in Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. Maj Gen McKeague went on to Seoul for meetings with Republic of Korea (ROK/South Korea) and United Nations Military Assistance Command (UNCMAC) officials. He also met with JPAC’s permanent team stationed in the ROK, met with those directly in charge of JPAC’s counterpart organization in Seoul, MAKRI, and toured their facility, built with advisory support from JPAC’s Deputy to the Commander for External Affairs Johnie Webb, himself a former Commander of the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL). JPAC regularly deploys teams worldwide and continues to expand into more countries, recovering increasing numbers of US personnel who served and sacrificed for our country during WWII, the Korean War and Cold War. At present, in addition to the above, JPAC has recently deployed teams to the Philippines, ROK and the Solomon Islands, will shortly return to Burma (Myanmar), and was to return to Papua New Guinea (PNG), but that mission has been deferred to the 4th quarter. Joint Forensic Reviews are also scheduled in early April in Palau. The League is pleased and grateful that our work since 1970 has resulted in the enormous effort now being made and strongly supports such efforts, so long as achieving the fullest possible accounting for missing Vietnam War personnel is not reduced or jeopardized. NO WORD FROM WHITE HOUSE ON USRJC CHARTER: Despite months of discussion between DPMO and National Security Staff (NSS), the White House has yet to approve the formal charter of the US-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) on POW/MIAs. In the interim, major changes in Russia since re-election of President Vladimir Putin brought removal of the Russian Chairwoman and several appointed Russian Commissioners. Now that the Senate has confirmed former Senator John Kerry as US Secretary of State, his seat on the USRJC as the Senate Democrat is vacated. In reality, Senator Kerry never participated on a USRJC delegation or in plenary sessions held in Moscow or in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has repeatedly been asked to appoint a Senate Democrat who is genuinely interested and willing to be actively involved, so perhaps action will now take place. The other USRJC Congressional members are Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Representative Tim Walz (D-MN). We appreciate the patience that these Commissioners and US Chairman General Robert “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret) have shown throughout the unwarranted White House delay in approving the charter. 44TH ANNUAL MEETING – JUNE 12-15, 2013: Since the 2012 meeting, critical issue-related events have taken place that make it crucial to have maximum membership participation at this year’s annual meeting. Funding, personnel and leadership changes and challenges within the POW/MIA accounting community ensure information provided during the briefings and panel discussions will be vital and will affect every family member and concerned American. Lt Gen Thomas “Stash” Conant, USMC, Deputy Commander PACOM, has agreed to be Keynote Speaker at the Opening Session on Thursday, June 13th. There will again be two full days of presentations by current and former US officials and briefings from analytic personnel, field operators, scientists and guests on a wide range of issue-related policy and operational matters. This year’s program also includes Regional Workshops, Friday, June 14th, following Service-hosted Luncheons. A three-hour Q&A Session with officials from DPMO, DIA/Stony Beach, JPAC, AFDIL and LSEL will be held Saturday morning, June 15th, followed by the by-law-required League Business Session. League family members should make travel arrangements that allow time for this important session where voting will occur on policy resolutions key to helping determine the way ahead. Registration: The form to register for the 44th Annual Meeting is on this newsletter’s last page. League members (family/associate), please complete and return the form to the League office with your check covering the cost of meeting registration and dinner ($55 per person). Meeting credentials will be available for pick-up Wednesday, June 12th, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Crystal Room, Plaza Level. An orientation meeting will be held that evening from 7:45-8:45 p.m. in Dewey I Room, also Plaza Level. To register for the meeting only, the cost is $50.00 for League members. Registration forms can also be found online at www.pow-miafamilies.org. If desired, your bank’s “bill-pay” program or PayPal (for a nominal processing fee) can also be used to pay registration fees, thus saving check-writing, time and postage. Reservations: This year, the hotel rate for rooms at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel has been reduced from $149.50 (plus tax), to $139.00 (plus tax), per room, per night – single or double. To make your reservations, call 800-HILTONS (800-445-8667), noting affiliation with the League’s 44th Annual Meeting. You can also go to www.hilton.com and use the code “MIA2013.” Deadline to secure the special rate is May 9th. The room-block is limited so early reservations are encouraged. If you have issues with reservations or getting the League’s rate, please contact the national office, 703-465-7432. Special Events: The 44th Annual Dinner & Candlelight Ceremony will be on Thursday, June 13th. Those wishing to invite guests must add $55.00 per person. This year, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong has accepted the League’s invitation to speak at the dinner. Cultural performances have been requested of the Lao and Cambodian Ambassadors, and both seem amenable to arranging brief performances as very special entertainment. A concert performance by the US Navy Sea Chanters has been requested for Friday evening, and the League will host a Game Night Pizza Party on Saturday at the close of June 15th activities. This final event will feature team and individual games, and a no-host bar will be available. All are welcome to attend and bring friends! Transportation: As stipulated by Congress, the Secretary of Defense is expected to again authorize transportation (COIN Assist). Two family members representing each man missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War are eligible to attend the annual meeting during which official government briefings are given. Service Casualty Officers will send information to the primary next of kin (PNOK) about the annual meeting, and forms to complete for requesting COIN Assist, individual case file reviews, reservations for Service-hosted Luncheons, and transportation to the Friday evening concert, depending upon venue. In authorizing COIN Assist, original Congressional intent was to ensure each missing American would be represented at the League’s annual meetings. Please help spread the word: All family members are eligible to attend the League’s annual meeting at which official government briefings will be given. Some League events are open only to those who register for the full League 44th Annual Meeting. If you have questions, call the national office, 703-465-7432. League Boutique: This year, the Boutique will again be held in the Board Room, first floor. In view of the tremendous success in years past, the League is once more seeking suitable items for display and purchase. Please be selective. Either bring the item(s) with you and deliver them to the Board Room or send them to the League office, including an itemized list that notes each item’s value and origin, if applicable. If you are interested in learning more about suggested donations, the League will provide a list on the website (or by mail upon request) of items that are typically well-received. Commemorative Program: Each year, the League publishes a special program that includes individual “ads” honoring missing US personnel, organizational ads with best wishes to the families gathered for the meeting, and ads promoting POW/MIA-related and other products. The 7th page of this newsletter provides the 2013 Program Ad Rates. The deadline for receipt of ads is close of business on May 14th. If possible, email your camera-ready ad to Annual.Meeting@pow-miafamilies.org, and mail a copy with payment (or a PayPal receipt) to the League office. Meet Your Elected Officials: It is more important than ever that elected Representatives and Senators know what POW/MIA family members and concerned citizens want from Congress regarding the accounting issue. If you plan to participate in Congressional visits this year, plan to arrive one day early, on Tuesday, June 11th, and be available on the morning of Wednesday, June 12th, to meet with Congressional Visitation Chairman Allen Harvey. He will provide points to raise and materials with current information for use during your visit. If you want field operations to continue, priority and consistent funding are required. BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: Election of the 2013/2015 Board of Directors will be held this spring with results to be announced at the 44th Annual Meeting, and tenure starting immediately thereafter. Candidates must be League family members in good standing (dues paid up to date) and have the time and financial ability to absorb all expenses associated with serving on the board, including travel and accommodations. Board meetings are called four times each year, one being at the close of each annual meeting. Applications are available from the League office by calling 703-465-7432, sending an email to National Coordinator Lacy Rourke at Lacy.Rourke@pow-miafamilies.org, or by downloading the application from the League’s website, www.pow-miafamilies.org, then printing, completing and mailing it to the League office, or sending as an attachment to an email to the National Coordinator. BOARD MEETS IN ELKO, NV: In February, board members again traveled to Elko, NV, to hold a two-day Board of Directors meeting and participate in the Elko POW*MIA Awareness Association’s 7th Annual Chili Feed. Held in a conference room donated by the Hilton Garden Inn in Elko, the meeting was attended by all board members, and time was allowed for invaluable discussion of League policy and issue-related concerns now facing the accounting community. Overnight accommodations were again generously donated by the Elko Super 8 and Travelodge. This year’s Chili Feed saw a record number from the Elko community in attendance. The event began with an impressive opening ceremony, featuring a Missing Man Honors Ceremony, which also included brief remarks from Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths and Vice Chairman David Gray. The ceremony concluded with a video honoring “Women Who Serve,” both in the military and at home. A chili cook-off began the entertainment activities, with the winning chili donated by the Hilton Garden Inn. The evening also featured a live auction, with items ranging from homemade crafts to services donated by local businesses. A special rifle (donated by David Gray) was raffled separately. Proceeds from the auction, dinner and other Chili Feed events raised $15,000 for the League. MISSION STATEMENT:The League’s sole mission is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War. NEW DPMO REORGANIZATION ENDANGERS POW/MIA ACCOUNTING: The League was encouraged by the increased coordination that DPMO initiated under MG Montague Winfield, USA (Ret), since he was appointed less than a year ago to replace the prior DPMO leadership, in no small part due to expressed dissatisfaction by the League and major national veteran organizations. Last week, at an all-hands staff meeting, DASD Winfield announced that the most knowledgeable, experienced Vietnam War intelligence analyst, Mr. Gary Sydow, was being removed as head of the Research & Analysis Directorate and would assume responsibility for the Directorate of External Communications. Not only is this move disrespectful and insulting to a career intelligence analyst such as Mr. Sydow, it removes the central core of DPMO’s knowledge base and ability to contribute to the Vietnam War accounting process. His removal also signals a further reduction in Vietnam War accounting priority. Added to this reality is the fact that Mr. Sydow has a visceral distaste for public speaking and general communication requirements, such as press and media relations, that happens to be shared by most if not all intelligence specialists. During his time in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and later in DPMO, Mr. Sydow has been vital to national policy development on POW/MIA affairs due to his tenure in service and rational judgment since the Reagan Administration raised the priority. This move has also caused concern in JPAC due to Mr. Sydow’s critical role in case development and implementation. DASD Winfield also reassigned the head of the Policy Directorate, Mrs. Melinda Cooke, thus removing her from a key, central role, as she is the only other senior DPMO official with a firm grasp of historic knowledge and background. Over the years, not that we’ve always agreed, Mrs. Cooke has brought much-needed perspective to dealing with counterpart Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian officials on a nearly level playing field. (Foreign officials always have historical knowledge. That has been and is a distinct advantage.) Mrs. Cooke was reassigned to a newly formed position charged with handling accounting community integration and innovation, likely stemming from DASD Winfield’s expressed view that unity and communication are the two key factors to achieving success in what he terms “a new day” in the accounting mission; however, Mrs. Cooke should not be relegated to a role that can and should be handled by the leadership. At the League’s 43rd Annual Meeting in June, 2012, most were skeptical about DASD Winfield’s sloganeering and cheerful assurances, noting a lack of detail, but all wanted to give him a fair chance to succeed. The League’s Board of Directors met with DASD Winfield and some staff in September, 2012. The outcome was very ambiguous and unsettling, but still there was hope that the all would be OK. It seemed that he was at least trying to make things work, even if naïve about the current issue in today’s environment. In February, the National Coordinator and Board Chairman again met with DASD Winfield and his staff. The nearly three-hour briefing and discussion on impending changes resulted in many suggestions by the League. Interestingly, however, despite repeated allusions to transparency, partnership and unified efforts going forward, there was no mention during this meeting of changes that would include removal of key personnel that would deal a devastating blow to Vietnam War accounting. I deeply regret that this message is necessary and recognize the content will worry many who rely on the League to ensure the issue continues to be treated seriously, no matter which administration is in office. The current priority, with significant assets and resources, has taken decades to build and great effort to sustain. It would have been impossible without the support of the major national veteran organization leaders and veteran communities across the country. Had it not been for the League’s central role and determination throughout, there would be no DPMO, JPAC, DIA/Stony Beach, AFDIL or LSEL. Furthermore, the added mission of recovering unaccounted-for personnel from the Korean War, Cold War and World War II would not be taking place. The League led in holding things together and building the accounting process until the families and veterans of WWII and Korean War became active. Then they began demanding priority equal to that afforded the Vietnam War accounting effort. Some who know relatively little of the Washington, DC, mentality may feel a bit of short-term satisfaction to see the Vietnam War accounting reduced, as WWII remains recoveries expand, but reductions shouldn’t be necessary given the proposed funding. The League has consistently supported funding for WWII and/or Korean War efforts so long as they do not detract from Vietnam War accounting. Over and over, we have been reassured that this will not occur, but now the senior Vietnam War analyst is scheduled to be moved out and fewer Vietnam War analysts now work in DPMO due to personnel shifts, mostly into World War II analysis. Even the most knowledgeable policy official is to be moved aside. Should DPMO maintain this stance, the reassurances are hollow and will be resolutely challenged. HELP BRING THEM HOME (HBTH): This newly formed nonprofit organization is undertaking several activities that the League Board of Directors voted unanimously to support. Their goals are: 1) To provide responsible awareness and education about the POW/MIA issue; 2) To press the US Government to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing US servicemen and civilians; 3) To press the US Government to fully fund the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), and 4) To assure families of our missing and unaccounted-for (POW/MIAs) that a grateful Nation has NOT FORGOTTEN their loved ones. Petition Project: HBTH is actively involved in gathering signatures for a petition to press the US Government for full accountability of our missing and unaccounted-for personnel (POW/MIAs). The petition link is http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/help-bring-them-home/, and more information can be found on their Facebook Page (HelpBringThemHome.org) or their website listed below. Tributes to the Missing: HBTH is posting tributes to honor those still missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Their website is www.helpbringthemhome.org. Please look at their meaningful tribute pages. If you are a family member and wish to have your loved one included, contact HBTH at email@example.com. 25TH RUN FOR THE WALL (RFTW): As for the past several years, riders with RFTW are willing to carry photos and brief bios of our missing men across our country from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. The photos will be left at the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) over Memorial Day weekend. This is a great opportunity to raise responsible public awareness nationwide, signaling all that the fullest possible accounting is still a priority for the American people. If you are a family member and have in past years submitted a photo and bio, no further action is needed. (The originals are retained and copied each year.) If you would like to submit a brief bio and photo of your missing man to be hand-carried to The Wall, email League Board Member Karoni Forrester, firstname.lastname@example.org. Outreach: In conjunction with the 25th Run for the Wall (www.rftw.org), a small contingent of riders will be visiting MIA family members along the Southern Route. The League will be contacting family members in these areas to determine if they are interested in meeting with riders en route. HONOR-RELEASE-RETURN (HRR): Questions have been raised concerning whether the League does or does not support this new group, recently formed by some individuals already involved in other organizations, such as Run for the Wall, noted above. Although initiated by one of the founders of The Ride Home, Mr. Jim “Moe” Moyer, HRR’s published “platform of demands” includes thinly disguised assertions that Americans are currently being held as prisoners in Russia, the PRC, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet HRR offers no evidence to support their demand for negotiations to return them. The only American known to the League as currently held captive is SGT Bowe Bergdahl, USA, captured in Afghanistan and believed being held by the Haqqani network of the Taliban, in the tribal region of Pakistan. HRR’s unsubstantiated implications of conspiracy and cover-up within the US Government caused the League Board of Directors to vote the following policy on February 16, 2013: “League policy precludes affiliating with or supporting any organization with Honor Release Return’s known positions and currently planned activities.” NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POW/MIA FAMILIES 44th ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM AD RATES
INSIDE FRONT COVER – $1,000* INSIDE BACK COVER – $1,000* FULL PAGE (8 ½” x 11”) – $500* ½ PAGE (8 ½” x 5 ½”) – $250* ¼ PAGE (4 ¼” x 5 ½”) – $125** BUSINESS CARD – $50 (as submitted) “IN HONOR OF” – $25 (Submit name to be honored, with your name and relationship) Send camera-ready ads by email, if possible. Mail hard-copy, with payment, to: National League of POW/MIA Families 5673 Columbia Pike, Suite 100 Falls Church, VA 22041 703-465-7432 MIA101925@aol.com Deadline: May 18, 2013 *Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters, Updates & registration for the 44th Annual Meeting. **Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters & Updates. The League is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization; Federal Tax ID #23-7071242 44th Annual Meeting Registration Form serves as page 8.