Vietnam Delegation Visit
On July 23 DASD Winfield hosted Vietnam Vice Minister of Defense Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Thanh Cung and his 12-member delegation. Cung visited the U.S. as part of Vietnam's effort to energize its National Steering Committee, an organization formed a year ago to coordinate and centralize Vietnam's efforts to recover and account for its personnel lost during the Vietnam War. In addition to describing the mission of the National Steering Committee and discussing areas where the U.S. could assist Vietnam, Cung returned several personal effects of a U.S. airman captured during the war and subsequently released during Operation Homecoming. Cung's delegation also visited Texas Technical University and JPAC.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Support
DPMO provided two interpreters to support the VFW's 115th National Convention, June 19-23, in St. Louis. A delegation of 12 representatives from major Russian veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) participated in the event. The Russian delegation was headed by retired General-Lieutenant Ruslan Aushev, who delivered remarks during one of the main sessions. Supporting this event strengthens ties with Russian VSOs that have provided important assistance to our work to account for our missing personnel.
World War II
Dr. Ian Spurgeon, from DPMO, completed a two-week research trip to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., collecting primary and secondary sources for cases of missing airmen. With the help of AFHRA staff, Spurgeon gathered digital scans of approximately 60,000 pages of aircraft accident reports for use by World War II analysts, and copied mission reports and unit histories for specific cases in Italy, Germany, the Philippines, and England. Spurgeon also gathered unit histories and air operation reports related to several Vietnam War air losses in Vietnam and Laos.
In support of the Oral History Program DPMO analysts attended two veterans’ reunions. July 9 - 12, the 1st Cavalry Division met in Chicago and the 24th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) of the 25th Infantry Division held their meeting in Augusta Ga., July 16 – 19. There were more than 300 veterans in attendance at the 1st Cavalry Division reunion, 13 of them Korean War era and 31 Korean War veterans at the 24th RCT event. The DPMO analysts screened each veteran for knowledge on personnel from the Korean War who are still unaccounted for. Information useful for accounting will be placed in case files, forwarded to JPAC and the Service Casualty Offices.
From June 12-13, more than 200 family members of the missing from our Nation's wars came to Washington D.C. for the 45th Annual Meeting of The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. At this meeting representatives from the U.S. government’s personnel accounting community briefed family members on the government’s efforts to account for our missing to included briefings on government policy, remains recovery operations and methods of identifying remains. Also, family members had the opportunity to meet with analysts for an individual case summary on the loss of their loved one. DASD Winfield also addressed the 25th Annual Forum of The National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen.
On Monday, May 26, we remembered and honored the sacrifices of America's fallen heroes. President Barack Obama said in his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, "And so here, on these hallowed grounds, we rededicate ourselves to our sacred obligations to all who wear America's uniform, and to the families who stand by them always. That our troops will have the resources they need to do their job. That our nation will never stop searching for those who've gone missing or are held as prisoners of war. That -- as we've been reminded in recent days -- we must do more to keep faith with our veterans and their families, and ensure they get the care and benefits and opportunities that they've earned and that they deserve. These Americans have done their duty. They ask nothing more than that our country does ours -- now and for decades to come."
Personnel Accounting Community Case Categorization Working Group
Historians and analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) co-chaired the Personnel Accounting Community Case Categorization Working Group with participation from all four Service Casualty Offices. The working group worked on developing unified analytic categories and definitions for application to all conflicts. Recommendations from this group will be used to shape policies and devise metrics for reporting Personnel Accounting Community progress.
Southeast Asia Coordination Conference
DPMO hosted a Southeast Asia Coordination Conference May 12 -16, 2014. This effort included analysts and researchers from DPMO, JPAC, Life Sciences Equipment Lab (LSEL), and Stony Beach. The main objective was to analyze each case to determine how next to proceed. Next steps could include pursuing field investigation leads (e.g. witness interviews, surveys, excavations, etc.), or continued U.S. research (archival, veteran interviews etc). The team completed discussion and recommended next steps on 341 individual losses.
From March 31 to April 18, 2014, a historian conducted research at the Air Force’s primary historical archival facility, the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) on Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The historian digitally scanned and photo copied more than 750 pages of historical documents for World War II and Southeast Asia division historians and analysts. The AFHRA houses more than 70,000,000 pages of the Department of Defense’s most complete collection of U.S. Air Force unit histories, mission reports, and other Air Force-related historical documents. Their collection includes thousands of documents not found at the National Archives, other research facilities, or online.