AMERICANS IDENTIFIED: There are 1,713 Americans listed by DOD as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. On July 7th, the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) updated its website to indicate that Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald L. Wann, USA, of Oklahoma, is now accounted for. Listed as KIA/BNR in South Vietnam on June 1, 1971, his remains were recovered on July 29, 2008 and identified March 10, 2010. On June 25th, the DPMO web site carried the fact that Lt Col William L. Kieffer, Jr., USAF, of Maryland, is also now accounted for. Listed as MIA in Laos on February 11, 1970, Lt Col Kieffer’s remains were recovered April 9, 2007 and identified April 26, 2010. The number of Americans returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 870, though another 63 US personnel, recovered post-incident and identified before the end of the war, bring the total to 933. Of the 1,713 unreturned veterans, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam – 1,311 (VN-478 VS-833); Laos – 336; Cambodia – 59; Peoples Republic of China territorial waters – 7. Over 450 were over water losses.
JPAC COMMANDER TO LEAD POW/MIA CONSULTATIONS IN LAOS: MG Stephen Tom, USA, Commander OF THE Joint POW/MIA Accounting command (JPAC) will lead a team of US officials for substantive discussions with Lao counterparts. US Ambassador to Laos Ravic Huso will again participate, as he has so often in the past, joined by Defense Attaché LTC Jamie McAden, USA, Mr. Dustin Roses, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Stony Beach Team specialist now assigned in Vientiane, and specialists from JPAC and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO). Such consultations are held twice each year, usually in Laos, but occasionally in Hawaii.
General Tom also recently held talks with senior leaders of the Royal Cambodian Government. These twice year, talks were held in Siem Reap, near the historic site of Angkor Wat and surrounding temples. Results from the talks indicate further cooperation in the coming months, including agreement to a US proposal to hold another Provincial Governors Conference in the near future. Cooperation between the US and Cambodia on the accounting issue is hampered only by lack of US resources and failure of Vietnamese leaders to authorize release of relevant records on US personnel lost in areas of Cambodia where Vietnamese forces operated during wartime along the shared border.
ACCOUNTING COOPERATION: A large-scale Joint Field Activity (JFA) in Vietnam, including an under-water excavation along Vietnam’s northern coast, began on May 20th and concluded in mid-July. Media in Vietnam reported very successful results from the four Recovery Teams (RTs), two Investigation Teams (Its), plus an Underwater Recovery Team (URT). Operations were conducted throughout the country and along the northern coastline, and remains that could be those of three US personnel were repatriated. One RT was continued for two extra weeks in the hope of completing the site. The 100th JFA is about to begin, with an advance team already in-country for site preparation.
On June 22nd, three JPAC Recovery Teams left Hawaii for Laos where they excavated three aircraft crash sites in two Lao provinces that are associated with the loss of four individuals. This 115th Joint Field Activity (JFA) was noticeably smaller in scope than the 50-person cap allowed by the Lao Government for each JFA. The 114th JFA took place April 29th until early June, excavating sites in Houaphan and Xiengkhoang Provinces in northern Laos, and one Phase Two Investigation Team (P2T) surveyed sites in the Savannakhet, Xekong and Attapeu Provinces in the south.
41ST ANNUAL MEETING CONCLUDES: The July 22-24TH meeting brought over 200 Vietnam War family members to the Hilton Crystal City Hotel to hear briefings and updates from US officials most directly working to account for America’s unreturned veterans, our POW/MIAs. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg’s remarks coincided with Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Vietnam for discussions with counterparts at the ASEAN Regional Forum. State Department’s interventions have been especially helpful over the years, especially the strong support of our US Ambassadors in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) keynoted the Opening Session that also featured the senior Defense Department official present, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Pete Verga, appearing for the second time at the League’s annual meeting, as was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) Bob Newberry. The Opening Session concluded with an on-target assessment by the League’s Senior Policy Advisor Richard T. Childress, never one to shy away from helpful critiques of the US Government’s efforts, past, present and/or planned.
A special highlight was the participation of BG Robert Carr, USA, Deputy Director of Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, followed by DIA’s Stony Beach Lao Specialist and a panel of experienced Southeast Asia intelligence analysts, moderated by League Intelligence & Research Advisor George “Jay” Veith.
At the 41st Annual Dinner, guests were treated to a patriotic concern by the US Army Chorus, a favorite for decades. This year, the League Award was presented to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, accepted by VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace, who had spoken of his and the VFW’s commitment to the issue during his presentation on the VFW’s support for and involvement in the work of the US-Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs.
A full report will be forthcoming by the end of August that covers many specifics, but the lead-off by JPAC Commander MG Stephen Tom, USAR, set the tone for the professional briefings and presentations. The quality of such information improves and increases each year as capabilities expand and are applied. These range from Geospatial Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems to intelligence collection and analysis, to archival research to the forensic identification process and use of mtDNA, as well as other forms of DNA.