Foreign Veterans Visits U.S.
In January, DPMO provided interpreters and logistical support to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as they hosted a group of foreign veterans in Washington, D.C. The five visiting veterans representing Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, received briefings on the state-of-the-art medical care provided to our veterans by the U.S. government, and met with senior DoD officials to discuss the POW/MIA mission. The visitors will report back to their respective governments with a goal of developing similar medical, financial, and educational services for their own veterans. DPMO's support assisted in fostering a closer relationship with the foreign veterans, which in turn helps DPMO analysts collect information relating to U.S. Servicemen missing from past wars.
DPMO Policy Director Receives Award
On January 30, Ms. Melinda Cooke, DPMO Director for Personnel Accounting Policy, received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. Since 2009, Ms. Cooke has worked issues that span the globe, to include playing a critical role during the negotiations that led to a signed arrangement with the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; expanding personnel accounting activities with China; codifying long standing relations with Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea; and formalizing proactive WWII loss investigations in the European theater.
DPMO's Moscow Office is conducting research in the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Podolsk, Russia to locate information from the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps (FAC) archival records on missing U.S. servicemen. These records include information such as shoot down reports, maps, photographs, and descriptions of crash site locations. The 64th FAC was the parent unit of approximately 70,000 Soviet servicemen that fought against the U.S. and United Nations forces during the Korean War.
Family Update in Tampa, Florida
On Jan. 28, government officials from the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO); the Pacific Command's Joint POW/Missing Personnel Accounting Command (JPAC); the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL); the military Services' Casualty Offices; and the Air Force's Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) went to Tampa, Fl., and conducted DoD's 150th Family Update for 139 attending family members of MIA servicemen. There were 64 first-time attendees who participated in the event. Throughout the day, family members were presented information by DoD experts on current U.S. Government policy, DNA identification processes, and life sciences equipment technology. Attending family members were provided an opportunity to meet, 1-on-1, with DoD officials and systems experts to review the specific details of their MIA serviceman's loss case. Family members can click HERE to register for the next Family Update, scheduled for Feb. 25, in Dallas, Texas.
Research at The National Personnel Records Center
In January 2012, DPMO conducted a research trip to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. Researchers obtained copies of morning reports, patient rosters, unit rosters, and official personnel files of unaccounted-for service members. They also gathered records from living former service members, which may assist with collecting information on those that are missing. NPRC is the only government facility outside of the Washington, D.C. area that contains this particular information. The results of the trip provided information that was requested by family members, service casualty officers and DPMO analysts. From this trip, 18 sets of morning reports and nine personnel records were copied and dispatched to interested parties.
U.S and Vietnam Discuss Last-Known-Alive Cases
On January 10, analysts from DPMO, JPAC, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (Stony Beach) met in Hanoi, with analysts from the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons from the Ministry of Defense, to discuss the status of 36 Last-Known-Alive (LKA) cases. Of the LKA cases, 23 are Vietnam cases, 10 are Laos cases, and 3 are Cambodia cases. The discussions clarified requirements for future investigations in Vietnam, and identified challenging cases that will require assistance from the Vietnamese to resolve. The meeting also helped prioritize LKA investigation planning for the year. The cooperative discussions resulted in next steps for every LKA case reviewed.
Remains Recovery Operations in Laos
JPAC operations are temporarily suspended in Laos due to JPAC's decision not to renew the contract with the Lao company providing helicopter support to its operations there, and the Lao Government's subsequent rejection of JPAC's request to move the teams by vehicle. The decision not to renew the contract was prompted by safety concerns created when the Lao company began using helicopters not meeting Department of Defense safety standards for the JPAC mission. The Lao denied the subsequent JPAC request to move teams by vehicle, claiming road safety and security issues. If JPAC is able to renegotiate a helicopter contract with the Lao company for only those helicopters meeting U.S. Government safety standards, they may be able to resume operations later this spring. Alternately, Lao approval to move teams by vehicle will enable JPAC to resume limited operations in the country. The rugged terrain and lack of road network in areas where Americans went missing during the war make helicopter support to the JPAC mission in Laos critical. U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart is fully engaged in these discussions with Laos, and the issue will be on the agenda during the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Laos, scheduled for February, in Washington.
Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the Accounting Community
In FY2012, Secretary Panetta and the Department of Defense remain fully committed to supporting the accounting mission for all past conflicts. With the passage of the recent Defense budget, the DoD has increased funding for JPAC to meet statutory requirements to increase accounting from all past conflicts, including the emergent North Korea requirement.
89 Service Members Accounted For in 2011
In 2011, 89 service members were accounted for from past conflicts. Of those accounted for, 26 were from World War II, 39 were from the Korean War, and 24 were from the Vietnam War. A service member becomes "accounted for" only after their remains have been identified and the next of kin have been notified. For the past four years, there has been an increase in the number of service members accounted-for, a trend we hope will continue as the accounting community begins to increase its capacity in 2012.