U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Charter
Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at the 114th Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, Mr. Q Montague Winfield, announced the United States government approved the charter for the US side of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. This is an important step forward for worldwide recovery efforts and will assist efforts to account for missing personnel who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and other Cold War-era conflicts. There should be no doubt about the commitment of our government to the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel. DOD is determined to honor this sacred obligation.
SFA Honors DPMO
Recently the Administrative Director of the Special Forces Association (SFA), Mr. Cliff Newman, presented a plaque to DPMO on behalf of the SFA and Special Operations Association (SOA) in appreciation for the dedication, hard work, and commitment of the men and women of DPMO -- past and present -- to the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel, especially those from the Vietnam War.
Southeast Asia Visit
The DASD traveled to Southeast Asia with the Chief of Staff, COL Potts, Southeast Asia Policy advisor Jack Kull, and JPAC's incoming chief of operations (J3), LTC Tim Duffy. The delegation met with U.S. Embassy staff members in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and received briefings from JPAC detachments in Bangkok, Thailand; Vientiane, Laos; and Hanoi, Vietnam. They also traveled to Hawaii to brief JPAC commander Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague.
Spokane Family Member Update
On May 18, the principal director of DPMO, Ms. Alisa Stack, led the Family Member Update (FMU) in Spokane, Wash. There were 87 family members signed up, and 53 of the 87 were first time attendees. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) staff collected 18 DNA reference samples, which are used in the database to help identify recovered remains.
Chinese delegation visits DPMO
Recently a six-person delegation from China People's Liberation Army (PLA) Archive/Ministry of National Defense (MND) traveled to Washington, D.C., for annual talks with DPMO on personnel accounting activities in China. Prior to arriving in Washington, the Chinese delegation spent two days in Hawaii, participated in briefings, talks, a tour of JPAC's facilities and visited Pearl Harbor. This annual meeting is required by the technical arrangement that was signed on May 17, 2012 between DoD and the PLA. The purpose of the annual talks is for the Chinese to provide an update on progress made in preparing this year's annual report, to discuss the personnel accounting activities planned in China during 2013, and to provide the Chinese with research guidance for future work. The Chinese department staff is currently participating in a JPAC JFA investigating WWII and a Vietnamese loss incident. We await the results of China's annual report at the end of September 2013.
68th Anniversary of Meeting on the Elbe
On April 25th, DPMO Principal Deputy Alisa Stack laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery marking the 68th anniversary of the Meeting on the Elbe of U.S. and Soviet soldiers at Torgau, Germany, in 1945. The ceremony was held at the Spirit of the Elbe Marker, which was dedicated in 1995 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Each year the Russian Ambassador organizes a ceremony to recognize the U.S.-Russian Alliance in the War. The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Russian Embassy hosted by Ambassador Kislyak honoring the veterans. Other DPMO representatives at the ceremony were Lt Col Michael Allison and Ms. Svetlana Shevchenko of DPMO's Joint Commission Support Division and Dr. James G. Connell Jr., Acting Executive Secretary of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.
SFA Honors DPMO
On May 3, the Administrative Director of the Special Forces Association (SFA), Mr. Cliff Newman, presented a plaque to DPMO on behalf of the SFA and Special Operations Association (SOA) in appreciation for the dedication, hard work, and commitment of the men and women of DPMO -- past and present -- to the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel, especially those from the Vietnam War. It was an honor to accept this plaque and we truly appreciate the SFA, SOA, and all of the organizations that support and encourage us as we humbly carry out this mission.
Family Member Update in Birmingham, Alabama
On March 16, the DPMO team traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, along with members of the Accounting Community for DPMO's 158th Family Member Update. We met with 171 family members whose loved ones are missing from World War II, the Korean and Cold War, and the Vietnam War, 90 of whom were first-time attendees. The JPAC Commander, Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague also attended and gave remarks. Our next Family Member Update will be in Spokane, Washington on May 18 th.
Research in the Balkans
From March 4-17, a DPMO research team traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, to conduct two weeks of archival research and interviews to gather information in an on-going effort to resolve 236 outstanding cases in the former Yugoslavia from the World War II. They met with archivists, interviewed historians, researchers, witnesses, and journalists, and visited four archival institutions, including the Serbian Ministry of Defense Military Archives. More than 1,000 files were reviewed from key archival collections. The team collected specific information on five cases as well as contextual and broad material for all 236 cases. Analysts will translate and analyze the collected information in the coming months and apply that knowledge in preparation for future investigations throughout the Balkans.
Research in Italy
From March 10-26, a small team of DPMO personnel conducted field research and investigations in southern Italy. The team researched specific incidents in Castelnuovo di Porto, Riano, Crispiano, Laviano, Cancello ed Arnone, and Fondi. They also met with the staff of the Italian State Archives of Salerno, regarding historical documents that may be helpful in the resolution of both air and ground losses in the area. The team also met with museum officials in the areas surrounding Anzio regarding missing Americans lost during the campaign from Anzio to Rome during World War II. The contacts and publicity gained during the trip will surely bring more information in for DPMO personnel to analyze and research in the future. DPMO's Principal Director, Ms. Alisa Stack, visited the team during one of their surveys in the mountains led by an Italian group, the Salerno Air Finders. Here is their web story about our visit.
Civil War Sailors Laid To Rest
On March 8, DASD Winfield attended a burial in which sailors from the Civil War, who were aboard the USS Monitor, were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. The Monitor was the first ironclad war ship used by the US Navy. The elements did what the enemy could not do, when she foundered during a storm in 1862. Yet these sailors were not forgotten. JPAC played a large role in attempts to identify these service members through DNA and advanced forensics analysis.
Vietnam War 50th Commemoration
On March 11, DPMO hosted a visit by three staff members from the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration. These dedicated individuals explained how they travel the country to recognize and honor those who served during the Vietnam War. DPMO is happy that their work complements the Accounting Community's daily work to honor the services of our Vietnam War veterans and their families.
American Legion Washington Conference
On February 25, DASD Winfield spoke at the American Legion's 53rd annual Washington Conference. Mr. Johnie Webb from JPAC and Ms. Ann Mills Griffiths of the National League of Families also addressed the Legion's National Security and Foreign Relations Committee to update them on POW/MIA accounting efforts. At the end of the remarks, they took questions from the 148 Legionnaires in attendance.
Family Update in Albuquerque
On February 23, the DPMO team traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, along with members of the Accounting Community for the Department's 158th Family Member Update. Of the 118 family members that attended, 71 were first time attendees. The family members were extremely engaged and informed on the issues - they asked great questions, and I have no doubt that they left feeling well informed about our efforts to bring their loved ones home. The next Family Member Update will be on March 16, in Birmingham, Alabama. Family members can register for the event at: http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/family_events/.
DASD Winfield Addresses Texas Tech University
On February 21, DASD Winfield spoke to students and staff at Texas Tech University about the Accounting Community's mission, as part of their Guest Speaker Program. Texas Tech's Vietnam Center has played a helpful role in gathering and providing archived information for unaccounted-for service members for many years. Texas Tech has initiated a program to geo position documents from the Vietnam War, called "Captured Documents Exploitation Center" documents, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Texas Tech used programming data found at NARA by one of our DPMO researchers. This program should help DPMO researchers and analysts find leads on unaccounted-for service members from the Vietnam War.
Research at French Archives
DPMO WWII researchers recently returned from the second of two visits to the French Ministry of Defense Archives. This trip enabled them to delve into special collections of WWII research such as French Resistance and German Aircraft shoot down records, which will facilitate our WWII investigations in France.
Meetings with Congressional Staff
In February, DASD Winfield met with key staff members from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to update them on DPMO's efforts to account for our missing service members. He spoke at length about the most recent developments in the Accounting Community and expectations for achieving its goals in the coming years.
Coordination with the Republic of Korea
In February, JPAC and DPMO met with the Republic of South Korea Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) in Seoul, South Korea. During the first of two scheduled biannual meetings with South Korean counterparts, the participants discussed cooperation on joint field activities, joint forensic reviews, and Asian remains stored at JPAC. The discussions with U.S officials and the talks with MAKRI were friendly and productive.
40th Anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords
January 27 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the "Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam," also known as the Paris Peace Accords, the document officially ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Article 8 of the Agreement called for the release of all prisoners and committed the "parties to help each other get information about those military personnel and foreign civilians of the parties still missing in action." Throughout "Operation Homecoming," 588 POWs were released from Hanoi, 27 from Loc Ninh in southern Vietnam, and 3 from Beijing, China. As of today, due to the hard work of the entire Accounting Community, 992 service members and civilians who were unaccounted-for from that conflict have been brought home. Our work continues as we strive to account for the remaining 1,654 Americans unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.
Coordination with China
Last month, DPMO joined JPAC senior leaders for bilateral discussions with Chinese officials in Beijing, to review proposed JPAC investigation and recovery missions in the country. Cases proposed for investigation include World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War losses. JPAC also proposed a Korean War loss in Liaoning Province for recovery. The JPAC proposals were well received, and the talks were conducted in a warm and cordial atmosphere.
Personnel Recovery Policy
The Personnel Recovery Policy Directorate at DPMO is pursuing a robust engagement strategy to ensure best practices across the U.S. government. We are increasing our focus on countries where the Department of State, led by an Ambassador or Chief of Mission, has the lead for U.S. government activities. In these countries, DoD does not have personnel recovery capabilities that can respond when someone becomes isolated, so we are heavily dependent on our interagency partners and the host nation to conduct recoveries of isolated Americans. We have been working closely with the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, and assisted them in developing training standards for personnel outside of the U.S.
On Jan. 7 - 10, seven of our Korean War analysts and researchers met with JPAC to go over cases for 2013, update recent research, agree on next steps for the Republic of Korea, Korean War cases in China, and contingency plans for approximately 2,700 cases. This work will guide our Korean War research and analysis effort for the year.
2012 Year in Review
In 2012, there were 75 missing service members accounted for. Of those, 13 were from World War II, 40 were from the Korean War, and 22 were from the Vietnam War.