If you have any information you'd like to share, please send it to:
Gypsypashn@aol.com

 Thank you.

 


Thank you to all who share information with me so that I may share it with others!  Please feel free to pass along to others you feel might be interested in the POW/MIA Veterans Newsletter, thank you!

 

Gypsy

 

 

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

The VA is in the process of redesigning the VA system ID cards after it was discovered that anybody with a smart phone app could scan the card and come up with the servicemembers Social Security Number!

 

The New Veteran Health Identification Card is coming soon!
New Veteran Health ID Card
The new Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) provides:
Increased security for your personal information - no personally identifiable information is contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode.
A salute to your military service – The emblem of your latest branch of service is displayed on your card. Several special awards will also be listed.
The VHIC replaces the Veteran Identification Card (VIC) and will be issued only to Veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system.
Purpose of the VHIC
The VHIC is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. It cannot be used as a credit card or an insurance card, and it does not authorize or pay for care at non-VA facilities.
Getting the New Card is Easy!
VA will begin issuing the VHIC to newly enrolled Veterans and enrolled Veterans who were not previously issued a VIC but request an identification card starting February 21, 2014.
Beginning in April, VA will automatically mail a VHIC to enrolled Veterans who were issued the VIC.  Because we will be reissuing more than 6 million cards, we ask for your patience during this time. Veterans who were issued a VIC do not need to return to their VA medical center to have a photo taken for the VHIC.
Enrolled Veterans who do not have the VIC can contact their local VA medical center Enrollment Coordinator to arrange to have their picture taken for the new VHIC, or they may request a new VHIC at their next VA health care appointment.  To ensure their identity, Veterans must provide either one form of primary identification or two forms of secondary identification. Please see the Acceptable Documents for Identity Proofing table below.
The VHIC will be mailed to all valid mailing addresses, including P.O. boxes.
Important!!  Veterans who are already enrolled should ensure the address we have on file is correct so you can receive your VHIC in a timely manner. To update or to confirm your address with us, please call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).  If the post office cannot deliver your VHIC, the card will be returned to the VA.
What to do if you are NOT enrolled
If you are not currently enrolled with the VA for your health care, we encourage you to apply for enrollment online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387). You may also apply for enrollment in person at your local VA medical facility. Once your enrollment is verified, your picture will be taken at your local VA medical center so that ,once production begins, a VHIC will be mailed to you.  To ensure your identity, you must provide either one primary or two secondary documents. See the Acceptable Documents for Identity Proofing table below.
What to do if you do not receive your new VHIC
You should receive your VHIC within 7 to 10 days after you request a VHIC card.  Although we strive to do all we can to ensure we enroll Veterans in a timely manner, sometimes we are unable to either verify your military service or we need additional information from you. If so, we will try to contact you to get the information we need to complete your enrollment application. If we are unable to reach you, we encourage you to contact the local VA facility where the card was requested or contact us at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) to complete your application and find out the status of your card.
What to do with your old VIC
VA wants all enrolled Veterans to have a Veteran Health Identification Card that protects their personal information.  Until Veterans receive the new, more secure VHIC, Veterans are encouraged to safeguard their old VIC, just like they would a credit card, to prevent unauthorized access to their identity information.  Once the new VHIC is received, Veterans should destroy their old VIC by cutting it up or shredding it.
What to do if you’re VHIC is lost or stolen
If your VHIC is lost or stolen, you should contact the VA Medical Facility where your picture was taken to request a new card be re-issued, or call us at 1-877-222-VETS (8387). Identifying information will be asked to ensure proper identification of the caller.

 

 

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March 29th. National Vietnam Veterans Day... watch for an event in your area....

Sign the Petition to make this a "FOREVER" day of honor!

https://www.causes.com/actions/1751882-time-to-deliver-march-29-vietnam-veterans-day-forever?email_required=1

 

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http://news.yahoo.com/vietnam-veterans-sue-military-over-ptsd-171029791.html 

Vietnam veterans sue military over PTSD

 

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN March 3, 2014 3:20 PM

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The U.S. military has failed to upgrade the discharges of Vietnam veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in stigma and loss of benefits, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday. Related Stories Vietnam veterans sue U.S. military for discharge upgrades over PTSD Reuters [$$] Vietnam Veterans Sue for Better Discharges, Claiming PTSD The Wall Street Journal George W. Bush launches program to help veterans transition from war Reuters Pleas for more help for military veterans to recover from sexual assault Christian Science Monitor Zimmerman Says He Lives in Fear, Has PTSD ABC News Five Vietnam veterans and three veterans organizations are suing the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in Connecticut. The veterans say they suffered PTSD before it was recognized and were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions that made them ineligible for benefits.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status to represent tens of thousands of veterans, says the military has systematically denied applications for upgrades involving evidence of PTSD.

"Unfortunately, the Pentagon has refused to correct the decades of injustice experienced by tens of thousands of veterans who suffer from PTSD but were discharged before it was a diagnosable condition," V Prentice, a law student intern in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a news release. "This action seeks to compel appropriate action by the military and to finally secure justice for these veterans."

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department doesn't comment on pending litigation. The Department of Defense has said the agency is committed to addressing concerns related to PTSD and has taken numerous steps, including conducting PTSD assessments of service members at military treatment facilities.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office also declined comment.

Conley Monk, a New Haven resident who served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, developed PTSD after suffering traumatic events including a barrage of enemy mortar rounds and the gassing of his unit, according to the lawsuit. He later experienced flashbacks and hyper vigilance when he was stationed in Japan and went absent without leave, the suit said.

"When I was in high school, I worked at the VA hospital in the kitchen as a dishwasher. But after I came home from Vietnam, I couldn't even get my job back as a dishwasher because of my bad paper," said Monk, one of the plaintiffs. "My discharge status has been a lifetime scar. If I were discharged today, my PTSD would be recognized and treated and I wouldn't be punished for having a service-connected medical condition."

A proposed class-action lawsuit over the issue was filed in 2012 as part of a claim involving a Vietnam veteran, but that veteran's case was settled. The class-action part of the case was not decided, the law students said.

Since 1993, only 4.5 percent of about 375 applications for discharge upgrades involving PTSD have been granted for Vietnam veterans, according to the lawsuit, which seeks what it calls consistent and medically appropriate standards for considering the effects of PTSD when determining whether to upgrade a discharge.

"Tens of thousands of brave and honorable Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress have been doubly injured by the black mark of an other than honorable discharge, resulting in unjustly denied support, services and benefits," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "These heroic veterans are long overdue present day appreciation of modern mental health in the timely review of their discharge upgrade appeals."

 

 

 

 

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http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/563206-four-ways-to-really-fix-the-pentagons-effort-to-id-the-missing/

How to Really Fix the Pentagon’s Effort to ID 83,000 Missing Service Members By Megan McCloskey, ProPublica | March 15, 2014 Last Updated: March 15, 2014 6:43 amFeedback Portrait of Kenneth F. Reese, a soldier who is still Missing In Action from the Korean War. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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Last week, we wrote about the Pentagon’s floundering efforts to find and identify the 83,000 service members missing from past conflicts – of which the military ID’d just 60 last year. As our story laid out, the mission has been hampered by outdated scientific methods, a lack of public outreach and cumbersome bureaucracy.

Lawmakers and Pentagon leadership have zeroed on the overlapping agencies and lack of clear chain of command in the mission. Last month, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how the military manages the effort.

Original Story The Military is Leaving the Missing Behind by Megan McClosey. Mar. 6, 2014 But streamlining the structure won’t be enough, many outside experts say. Here are four ideas to really fix the effort. Overhaul use of DNA The main agency involved is the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, which runs the forensics laboratory used to identify the remains of the missing. J-PAC starts with historical and medical records first and leaves DNA last.

That’s backwards from all other modern day efforts to identify the missing, which begin the process with DNA and let that powerful tool lead the process. Using DNA as the primary identification method was used in Argentina after the dirty war, in the Balkans after the genocide there, and here in the United States after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

If changes don’t bring the methods up to date with the latest forensics techniques, Ed Huffine, a DNA expert, said, “the system will still fail.”

Another issue is the type of DNA J-PAC uses.

It relies on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from the mother and is consistent along the maternal line for generations. A grandmother shares the same mitochondrial DNA with her daughter and her daughter’s children, for example.

But other scientists involved in identifying the missing stopped using maternal DNA almost twenty years ago. Instead, in places like Argentina and Bosnia, scientists use nuclear DNA, which can be compared to the mother, father, children and siblings of the person to make a positive ID. It’s also faster and cheaper to process than mitochondrial DNA.

In Bosnia, they would extract DNA from a bone on a Monday, sequence the DNA on a Tuesday and do any necessary troubleshooting by the end of the week, said Huffine, who helped designed the effort in Bosnia. For the Pentagon, similar DNA processing often take months.

Since J-PAC works decades-old cases, scientists would face times when nuclear DNA samples from immediate family might not be available. In those cases J-PAC must rely on maternal DNA, using, for example, the DNA from a missing soldier’s niece. But here too, experts say, J-PAC could make better use of DNA.

J-PAC won’t rely on maternal DNA to make an ID, because it can be shared across different families. However, even the most common mitochondrial DNA is only shared by 5 percent of the population – meaning J-PAC could be 95 percent sure of the person’s identity when using it, according to Joshua Hyman of the University of Wisconsin. He and others argue that DNA is the strongest and fastest place to start an ID, regardless of the type, rather than leaving it last in the equation.

Family samples of maternal DNA could also be combined with samples of paternal DNA to make a match. J-PAC should request all the different types of DNA to be sequenced at once.

Do a national, high-profile outreach campaign to collect needed DNA samples for WWII – before it’s too late. Siblings are among the best DNA matches for WWII missing service members, especially if the MIAs had no children. That generation is dying. The Pentagon could enlist the help of Hollywood – Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have been suggested – to publicize a massive effort to collect as many DNA reference samples from family of the missing. TV ads, social media, radio and YouTube videos and more could all be used to solicit participation. The U.S. government has actually given Argentina millions of dollars in grants to do just that.

The more samples for a missing service member are on hand the easier it is to make a match.

“Given that close relatives of WWII soldiers are older, how long are we going to wait to collect their DNA? They represent the best opportunity to find a match,” Hyman said. “Are we just waiting for the issue to go away, assuming that when they die there will be no one left that cares enough to cause a fuss?”

Do massive disinterments of 9,400 unknown servicemembers to try to identify with DNA More than 9,400 service members from WWII and the Korean War are buried as “unknowns” in American cemeteries around the world because of the limitations of science at the time. But many of them could now likely be identified if the Pentagon exhumed the remains for DNA testing.

“Seems to me like the logical approach,” Clyde Snow, a world-renowned forensic anthropologist said.

With the copious records the U.S. military has, the unknowns could be broken down into like groups from theater, battle or event, and dug up accordingly to keep it manageable.

In order to be both efficient and respectful of the remains, scientists say the bodies could be left in place and tested using a mobile DNA unit and then housed in a mausoleum while DNA cross referencing is done.

Embrace outside help Experts say about 45,000 MIAs are recoverable, likely an overwhelming task for any one organization or agency. So some people formerly involved in the effort have suggested enlisting universities, historical organizations, military unit associations, veterans and other interested groups.

At J-PAC’s sister agency, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, there was an idea floated of building regional centers that could be responsible for researching and building cases on the missing from their area. That would tap into a pool of people who care deeply about those who are missing, building “a cadre of people who are focused towards the mission in manageable chunks,” said Navy Commander Renee Richardson, formerly of DPMO.

“We’d be leveraging all the things universities already do,” said Richardson. “If you go to a university, let’s say Harvard, and tell them, ‘from your class of ‘37, you still have three people missing from WWII.’”

This would require much more openness with records and findings than the Pentagon has been willing to share in the past, Richardson said.

In the search for remains – the hardest task of the mission – locals can often help. There are Belgians, for example, who live near the Battle of the Bulge and have long worked to find missing American soldiers. They have the advantage of speaking the native language and being a part of the community, but are often shunned by the Pentagon.

Anthropologists have also suggested outsourcing overseas archaeological operations for continuity and efficiency. Rather than flying scientists from Hawaii to spend a few weeks looking for remains in, say, Papua New Guinea, there could be a team stationed there. Their work would be continuous rather than filled with the time lags of sometimes years between digs that hinders J-PAC’s efforts

 

 

 

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National Alliance of Families
for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen
World War II + Korea + Cold War + Vietnam + Gulf Wars + Afghanistan
 
March 1, 2014    Bits N Pieces               


Taliban Suspends Talks to Release POW Bowe Bergdahl - After a flurry of activity raising hopes for the imminent release of Bowe Bergdahl, Taliban officials suspended talks with the U.S.  The talks centered on the exchange of Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

As reported, on February 23, 2014, by Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press, “Afghanistan’s Taliban said Sunday they had suspended “mediation” with the United States to exchange captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior
Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, halting — at least temporarily — what was considered the best chance yet of securing the 27-year-old soldier’s freedom since his capture in 2009.”

“In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid blamed the “current complex political situation in the country” for the suspension.  A U.S. official with knowledge of the talks said the cause of the suspension was not the result of any issue between the United States and Taliban. He declined to elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.”
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Secretary of Defense Appoints Top Deputy to Oversee Pentagon’s Effort to Secure Bergdahl’s Release –
On February 26, Austin Wright of Politico.com reported

[Begin Excerpt] The decision comes amid criticisms on Capitol Hill and inside the Defense Department of the military’s efforts to bring home Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant from Idaho believed to be held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network, likely in Pakistan.
   
“The No. 1 issue that’s kept Bergdahl from coming home is a lack of cohesion to the effort,” said one Defense Department official involved in the Pentagon’s broader Bergdahl policies.

Now, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, a former Navy SEAL, will oversee the Pentagon’s Bergdahl efforts, the congressional aide told POLITICO. The aide, whose boss was informed of the decision, and the Defense Department official both discussed the sensitive issue on the condition of not being identified.

Lumpkin’s assignment comes as he works more broadly to revamp the department’s troubled efforts to account for all missing personnel — the more than 83,000 Americans lost in conflicts dating to World War II…

… Secretary Hagel believes strongly that we should continue to do everything we can to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home safely,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in an email. “His focus on achieving that goal has never wavered...

…At the White House, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Wednesday that the effort was “led by the Defense Department” but that “leadership from every relevant agency remain involved and engaged.”  “Sgt. Bergdahl’s situation is closely followed at the highest levels of the
White House and remains among the top priorities of our interagency team,” she said.

The Defense Department official critical of the organizational structure within the military dealing with the Bergdahl situation said, “There ought to be a multi-organization task force set up to deal with this.”

“For four f——— years this kid has been gone, and the efforts to get him back have been so haphazard that it’s deplorable,” the official said. “We need to put someone with sufficient political clout in charge to resolve this.”

…“We have said that we can’t discuss all the details of our efforts to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said last week. “But there should be no doubt that we work every single day using our military, our intelligence and our diplomatic tools to try to see him returned home safely.” [End Excerpt]
 
Read the full article at http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/chuck-hagel-pow-afghanistan-104001.html
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For almost four years, we have heard our government has spared no effort to find and rescue Bowe Bergdahl.  We always hoped that was true.  Unfortunately, the unnamed DOD official who labeled the effort to find Bergdahl “haphazard” now confirms our worse fears.  Apparently, it is business as usual.
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Secretary of Defense Orders Shake Up of POW/MIA Accounting Community – We excerpt the following from a Stars & Stripes article by Jon Harper published February 21, 2014. 

[Begin Excerpt] In the wake of numerous reports of misconduct and poor management practices by personnel charged with recovering and identifying the remains of missing servicemembers from past conflicts,  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the Pentagon to come up with a plan to consolidate all Defense Department assets into a single, more accountable entity that will manage all personnel accounting resources, research and operations.

On Thursday, Hagel directed Michael Lumpkin, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to deliver the plan to him within 30 days, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
In a memo obtained by Stars and Stripes, Hagel said Lumpkin’s action plan should propose ways to:

Maximize the number of identifications.
Improve transparency for families.
Reduce duplicative functions.
Establish a system for centralized, complete, fully accessible personnel case files for missing personnel.

In the memo, Hagel suggested he is considering making wide-ranging changes in areas such as:

Civilian and military personnel policies.
Contracting and acquisition policies.
Statutory and regulatory authorities.
Facilities.
Budgets.
Procedures.
Oversight of laboratory operations.

“This is a top priority for the Department,” Hagel said.

The initiative follows embarrassing revelations and unflattering reports about Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the two agencies with primary responsibility for recovery and identification efforts. [End Excerpt]
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Seems Like We have Heard this Song Before - Maximize identifications, improve transparency, reduce duplicative functions and complete centralized files, yes we’ve heard this song before.
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Will There Be a True Shake-up of the POW/MIA Accounting Community – Not if you allow the individuals who created the problems, the individuals who brought us to the brink of “dysfunction” to remain in their jobs.  These individuals are the problem.  While the final decision rests with the Secretary of Defense, he is receiving recommendations from the organizations currently under the microscope.

Today, POW/MIA families find themselves in the same situation they faced in the early 1990s.  Outraged over the actions of the POW/MIA Office at the Defense Intelligence Agency, disgusted with the unprofessional operation of the Central Identification Laboratory and armed with Col. Peck’s letter of resignation and another GAO Study completed at the request of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, families demanded action to improve POW/MIA efforts.  Things were so bad, the Department of Defense had to act, creating DPMO, assuring POW/MIA families a new and improved effort.  The problem, just about everyone working in the DIA POW/MIA office moved over to DPMO.  It was business as usual. 

While POW/MIA family and Veterans groups have been invited to submit their recommendations, the Department of Defense has a long history of ignoring these groups, when it comes to critical issues (Remember the revised Missing Service Personnel Act).  We are not optimistic there will be a true shake-up of the POW/MIA Accounting Community, to correct the problems outlined in the Cole Report and GAO Study.  We are concerned any changes will be cosmetic while internally it will be business as usual. 

Twenty-plus years later, the old adage “the more things change, the more they remain the same” still rings true.
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Alliance  Recommendations - The National Alliance of Families offered our recommendations to correct issues within the POW/MIA Accounting Community in a letter sent to the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, Senators McCaskill and Ayotte and Representatives Wilson and Davis.  (Someone in one of those offices forwarded our letter to DPMO).

We have no problem with someone passing our letter to DPMO.  In fact, we sent the same letter with two small revisions directly to DPMO two days later.  However, we wonder why one of the agencies under review is processing the recommendations of POW/MIA family and Veterans groups, and passing them up the chain of command.  It simply gives the wrong appearance.

The Alliance offered the following recommendation.

The Alliance is adamantly opposes a merger of DPMO and JPAC.  A merger would be a disaster.  One only has to look at the 2003 merger of the Joint Task Force – Full Accounting and the Central Identification Laboratory to form JPAC, to recognize a merger will not work.   That merger is one of the factors that led us to where we are today.

The Alliance further recommended a review to consider returning CIL and JTF-FA to their pre-2003 structure.  The current infighting and turf wars can be resolved by providing each organization, DPMO, CIL and JTF-FA with clearly defined roles and sets of responsibilities within the accounting effort.  The merger of CIL and JTF-FA clearly blurred the lines between two commands with different missions, JTF-FA recovery and CIL identification.  The failure in the current system is a failure of management and mindset, not basic organizational design.   However, there should be one entity to whom all agencies within the POW/MIA accounting community reports, providing these agencies with the necessary oversight.

Additionally we recommended the use of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the recovery of World War II remains and remains identification from both World War II and Korea buried as Unknowns in American cemeteries.   The recent recovery and identification of World War II remains, by a NGO, at a cost of approximately $25,000 proves this is a viable option.  (Read more about this recovery and JPAC’s refusal to bring this soldier home on page 7 of this Bits N Pieces).

We strongly recommend the Life Science Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) should remain untouched within Air Force Command.  Over the years, LSEL has managed to maintain its independence and objectivity.  We believe this is due wholly to the fact that it is out of the DPMO/JPAC sphere and its management has not been exposed to the destructive mindset within those organizations.  LSEL has a well-defined mission and the expertise to carry it out that mission. 

In closing our letter, we recognized the field teams, who conduct the actual recovery operations saying,

“Lastly, we wish to commend the men and women of the field recovery teams.  These individuals work under difficult and often dangerous conditions to recover the remains of our missing service members.  It is a disservice to them and the families of our POW/MIAs that their efforts are perverted by a dysfunctional management system mired down by egos and power grabs.”

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Why does Johnie Webb still have a job?


97 Co-sponsors, and Counting – Please contact your congressional representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.Res 231.  Now more than ever, we need H. Res 231.  To contact your representative by email visit http://www.nationalalliance.org/legis/index.htm  Please make the call, send the email or fax.  We know it is frustrating doing this again.  However, we cannot let the government think we are giving up.  That is what they are counting on.  They are waiting for the day we give up, or become too old and sick to carry on.  Then who will speak for our POW/MIAs.

Remember you are the voice of our POW and MIAs.
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What Was He Thinking –President Obama signed an agreement to provide Vietnam with nuclear fuel and technology.  We excerpt the following from an article by Julian Pecquet of thehill.com posted February 24, 2014,

[Begin Excerpt] The cooperation agreement with the communist nation allows the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel and technology to its former foe. It aims to help guarantee Vietnams' energy independence as China asserts a more prominent role in the region.  “I have determined that the performance of the Agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security,” Obama wrote in a memo for the secretaries of State and Energy.

The deal aims to get Vietnam to import the fuel it needs for its reactors instead of producing it domestically. But it doesn't bar the country from conducting its own uranium enrichment, raising concerns about nuclear proliferation.

The agreement is also seen as a potential complicating factor in the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. Iran has repeatedly accused nuclear powers, and the United States in particular, of a double standard in terms of which nations are allowed to run nuclear programs that are allegedly for civilian purposes only. [End Excerpt]
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A Little Media Attention Goes a Long Way -  On February 23, 2014 Matthew Burke, of Stars & Stripes, reported it now appears JPAC is ready to take another look at the case of three Marines left behind on Koh Tang Island, Cambodia in 1975. An earlier article by Burke described allegation made by a JPAC anthropologist regarding the mis-handling of this case (see Bits N Pieces dated February 1, 2014).  We excerpt the following from the February 23, 2014 article.

[Begin Excerpt]  The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has potentially found evidence related to Americans still missing from the final battle of the Vietnam War and may head back to Koh Tang island for an excavation in the near future, officials said.

A seven-member investigation team spent a week on the island off the coast of Cambodia in September, where it investigated two sites located in areas where the heaviest fighting occurred, JPAC officials said last month.

JPAC officials declined to provide specifics on the sites, what was found or any potential correlation to a particular missing servicemember, but they said they did find enough evidence to bring one site before the administrative body that decides whether to allocate funds for a dig.  Since only concrete cases are brought before the board, the revelation has given hope to the families of the missing. [End Excerpt]

Abandoned in Place, The Men We Left Behind and the Untold Story of Operation Pocket Change the Joint Special Operations Command Planned Rescue of American POWs Held in Laos Six Years After the End of the Vietnam War by Lynn O’Shea – From the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, in January 27 1973, to the "dysfunctional" POW/MIA accounting effort of 2013, "Abandoned in Place," tells the story of the men we left behind. It painstakingly details the intelligence available that led to the conclusion American POWs survived in Laos in 1981 and Operation Pocket Change, the effort to rescue them.
Intentional leaks doomed the rescue operation, condemning the surviving POWs. "Abandoned in Place," describes the post 1981 government accounting effort, crippled by the "mindset to debunk." As POW/MIA families protested loudly, officials manipulated or ignored evidence, and edited witness statement to support their position no POWs survived in Southeast Asia.
Visit the website for Abandoned in Place at http://www.abandonedinplaceblog.com/  Also visit their page on Facebook Page and give it a LIKE.
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25th Annual Meeting of the National Alliance of Families – We will meet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crystal City, VA., (same as last year) on Friday June 13 and Saturday June 14.  Room rate is $112.00 per night, plus tax.   The Hyatt Regency is a short walk to the hotel hosting the government briefings.  As soon as we have the reservation information, we will pass it along.

Our meeting will coincide with the annual government briefing for the families of Servicemen unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.  Those briefings will be held Thursday June 12 and Friday June 13, 2014.  We remind family members, you do not have to belong to any POW/MIA family organization to attend the government meeting.  Family members should contact their Casualty Offices for more information.  As always, Alliance meeting are open to all at no charge.
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We Need Your Help – Please consider a donation to the Nation Alliance of Families, to help finance our annual meeting.  We know these are difficult economic times, but we really need your assistance.  Mail donations to:

National Alliance of Families
c/o Janella A. Rose
2528 Poly Drive
Billings, Montana  59102-1442

Latest JPAC Disgrace – When JPAC refused to exhume World War II remains despite strong evidence, pointing to identification private groups stepped in.  With the assistance of the French and German governments, the remains were recovered and identified.  Thanks to this effort and no thanks to JPAC, PFC Lawrence Gordon, missing since August 13, 1944 is going home.  While JPAC has a budget of 100 million per year and makes about 80 identifications annually, the cost for this recovery was approximately $25,000.  Who got the most “bang for their bucks?”

We excerpt the following from a February 24, 2014, article by Matthew Burke published in Stars & Stripes.

[Begin Excerpt]  Army Pvt. 1st Class Lawrence Gordon’s remains were identified Feb. 13, after researchers were able to match mitochondrial DNA to Gordon’s nephews, his family confirmed Monday. According to military records, Gordon has been missing since Aug. 13, 1944, when he was killed in an M8 armored car that was struck by a German anti-tank shell near Carrouges, France. His remains were first interred in an American cemetery as “unknown,” despite the fact that his bloody wallet was sent home to his family and the man killed next to him was identified.  The remains were later exhumed and reburied in a German cemetery.

In early 2013, officials at the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command refused to exhume and test the remains, citing Defense Department policy. For years, they also refused to aid in the research effort.

The French and German governments, however, determined there was enough evidence to proceed with testing of their own.  Thanks to their efforts, Gordon’s remains will now be buried next to his father and brothers in Saskatchewan, Canada, on the 70th anniversary of his death, according to a statement given Monday to Stars and Stripes by the multi-national research team responsible for making the case to the French and German governments.

Because the Defense Department stonewalled the identification process, it is unlikely that Gordon will receive American military honors, his nephew and namesake, Lawrence Gordon, said Monday. To receive the honors and be removed from the list of the unaccounted for, the results must be verified by the Defense Department.

…. On Aug. 13, 1944, Gordon, Pvt. James Bowman, Tech 5 Anthony Abato, and Pvt. Charles Kurtz were ordered to chase down a German motorcyclist that had passed them in their M8 armored car. While in pursuit, the vehicle was struck in the gas tank by a German 88 mm shell. Gordon and Bowman never made it out of the inferno. Kurtz and Abato were able to escape with serious burns, but Abato died two days later.  Records show that two sets of remains from the wreckage were placed in unknown status, and buried Aug. 15, 1944, in the Gorron American Military Cemetery by the 603rd Graves Registration unit.

“We presume identification was difficult because the remains were presumably blown apart and probably charred beyond recognition,” said filmmaker Jed Henry, who pursued evidence that eventually led Gordon’s identification.  But in the spring of 1945, Bowman was identified by fingerprints taken before the burial. Both set of remains were exhumed and processed.  Because German clothing or equipment was found with the one set of remains, it was determined to be that of a German solder. Apparently, nobody gave a second thought to the fact that Bowman remains also had been found with a German raincoat.  Gordon’s mother, Ella, was sent a Purple Heart, but few answers. She believed the government had lost her son’s body. That second set of remains of Gorron X-3, or German X-356, sat in one German cemetery or another for 69 years.

The quest to bring Gordon home began in 2011 while Henry began working on a documentary about his grandfather, Staff Sgt. David Henry.  Henry, who had fought alongside Gordon in the 199-member Reconnaissance Company, died in 1983.

Henry went to France to retrace his grandfather’s steps when he learned that there was one man of the 44 from the company who died during the war that never came home. He formed the core of his research team right then with the help of a French historian who had alerted him to Gordon. He then enlisted 7th Armored historian Wesley Johnston and researcher Patrick Gorman.

As months passed, Henry sought the help of DNA experts and forensic dentists who said that the dental chart for the unknown remains matched Gordon’s on file. He also linked up with Gordon’s nephew, Lawrence, who lives in Alberta, Canada.  However, it wasn’t enough for JPAC to test the remains, Henry was told at the time.

“At the current time, this case does not meet the criteria set by DoD Policy for disinterment; however, if the family unilaterally has the remains exhumed, the CIL will analyze and conduct forensic testing on the remains if the family wishes,” wrote Johnie Webb, JPAC’s deputy to the commander for external relations and legislative affairs, in an email to Henry.

Thankfully for the Gordon family, there were a number of current and former officials in the accounting community willing to lend a hand even if JPAC was not interested. In the end, they were able to convince the French and the German to exhume and test the remains.  Now that the French lab has identified Gordon’s remains, the next step is to have the results verified at the University of Wisconsin before burial. Henry wants this done to leave no doubt and to show that JPAC isn’t the only organization capable of bringing a missing servicemember home.

“While finding PFC Gordon and getting all the different countries on board was not easy, it is important to note that this was accomplished by four volunteer researchers/historians in their spare time with the blessing and guidance of PFC Gordon’s primary next of kin and all expenses have been paid for exclusively by the Gordon family and our volunteer research team,” Henry said. “We estimate that the total cost of this endeavor from start to finish will cost less than $25,000. That means research, travel, DNA testing and all associated costs are about $25,000.”

… JPAC’s decision to not pursue the case does not sit well with at least one member of the research team that has identified Gordon’s remains so that he may finally be taken home.  “It is truly sad that the greatest country in the world does not even remotely come close to living up to the rhetoric that it disseminates to the American public about leaving no soldier behind,” Henry told Stars and Stripes on Monday. “For someone who loves this country and what our military does for us, I am admittedly ashamed by our efforts and embarrassed that we do not live up to the commitment that we promise to our veterans and their families.”

Lawrence Gordon said they got lucky that his uncle’s remains were out of JPAC’s reach. That is the only reason they were successful.  “A grade one child has a greater moral compass,” he said of the American accounting agencies. “Thank God Uncle Lawrence was not in their system. He’ll be brought home and we’ll finally have some closure.”
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Veterans Please Take Note – According to this article, PFC Gordon may not receive his military honors because JPAC did not recover the remains and make the identification.  If PFC Gordon is denied his honors, we are sure the Veterans community will step up and see that this soldier is afforded full honors, if requested by the family.

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http://www.propublica.org/article/missing-in-action-us-military-slow-to-identify-service-members

The Military is Leaving the Missing Behind

By Megan McCloskey, ProPublica, March 6, 2014, 44,666 Americans are still “missing in action” and considered recoverable.

Tracing his genealogy online one night, John Eakin landed on a name that evoked an old family sorrow.

Arthur “Bud” Kelder, Eakin’s cousin, had died while a POW during World War II, but his body had never been found. Bud’s parents had sent handwritten letters to the Army for years, asking to have their youngest son’s body returned to them in Illinois.

Bud Kelder, far left, before WWII. John Eakin saw this picture of his distant cousin on the wall of his great aunt’s house when he was 15 and asked who he was. That was the first time he learned of Bud’s story - and the only time he saw his grandpa cry. (Courtesy of John Eakin)

“It is our hope that his remains may be sent here, for burial at home,” pleaded one.

Six decades later, Eakin, a stubborn Texan who was himself a vet, resolved to find out exactly why Bud had never come home.

In the fall of 2009, Eakin reached out to family members and found that Bud’s older brother had kept a trove of historical documents laying out Bud’s saga: the telegram announcing he was a POW, newspaper clippings, letters sent between Bud and his parents.

Before the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Bud had worked as a dental assistant at the American hospital in Manila, a plum assignment in a tropical getaway. In late 1941, the Army private wrote to his parents about saving his paycheck to buy a custom-made sharkskin suit. It “really is a peach,” Bud wrote.

#MIA Takeaways

1 There are roughly 45,000 Americans "missing in action" from World War II, Korea and Vietnam who are considered recoverable.

2 Despite spending roughly $100 million annually, the Pentagon identifies on average 72 people each year. At the current rate, it would take them more than 600 years to finish the job.

3 Outdated methods contribute to the Pentagon's slow pace — unlike most other modern efforts around the world, the military doesn't use DNA as the first and primary means of identifying the remains.

Link
After war broke out in December 1941, Bud was among 12,000 American troops who were besieged by the Japanese for four months on the Bataan peninsula, just south of Manila.

“What I dream is there will be no more separations between us again and we’ll spend more time together,” he wrote to his parents in cursive two months later. “P.S. Mother! Don’t worry about me.”

The Americans surrendered on April 9, 1942. The Japanese made Bud a driver during the infamous five-day, 65-mile Bataan Death March. He eventually ended up at Cabanatuan, one of the largest POW camps for American troops.

When Eakin tried to figure out what happened next, he ran into an unexpected roadblock.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million a year to find men like Bud, following the ethos of “leave no man behind.” Yet it solves surprisingly few cases, hobbled by overlapping bureaucracy and a stubborn refusal to seize the full potential of modern forensic science. Last year, the military identified just 60 service members out of the about 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, around 45,000 of whom are considered recoverable.

At the center of the military’s effort is a little-known agency, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, and its longtime scientific director, Tom Holland. He alone assesses whether the evidence J-PAC has assembled is sufficient to identify a set of remains: A body goes home only if he signs off.

Over Holland’s 19-year tenure, J-PAC has stuck with an outdated approach that relies primarily on historical and medical records even as others in the field have turned to DNA to quickly and reliably make identifications.

Though finding missing service members can be difficult — some were lost deep in Europe’s forests, others in Southeast Asia’s jungles — Holland’s approach has stymied efforts to identify MIAs even when the military already knows where they are. More than 9,400 service members are buried as “unknowns” in American cemeteries around the world. Holland's lab has rejected roughly nine out of every 10 requests to exhume such graves.

Holland’s cautious approach is animated by a fear of mistakes.

Millions of Dollars, Few ID's

This chart shows how many identifications are made each year by J-PAC, compared to the agency’s budget. Including the other agencies involved in finding remains of missing service members, the Pentagon has spent nearly $500 million over the past five years.

            2009    2010    2011    2012    2013    Total
ID's            105    62    65    80    60    372
Budget (in millions)    $54    $65    $69.9    $95.7    $88.5    $373.1million
Source: Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office


“Our credibility is only as good as our last misidentification,” he said in an interview. “It doesn't matter that I've identified 500 people correctly. If I misidentify one, that’s what going to be the focus. That’s what's going to be on the news. That is what is going to erode the credibility. That’s what I go home with every night.”

The top military official at J-PAC, Gen. Kelly McKeague, said he believed the standards for laboratory work to identify a veteran should be higher than the FBI lab’s standard for a death penalty case. With what J-PAC does, he said, there’s “a lot more at stake.”

In recent years, J-PAC and the other agencies responsible for the MIA program have come under intensifying scrutiny. In 2010, when Congress added World War II to J-PAC’s mission, it mandated at least 200 identifications overall a year by 2015 — a benchmark the agency has already said it will not meet. The problems, including those of DNA, go beyond J-PAC. Last month, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how the military manages the effort.

Time is running out. There are 35,000 missing who experts say are findable from WWII. But the MIA’s closest relatives are dying off — and often with them so are the chances for using DNA to finally identify their long-lost loved ones. 

John Eakin has spent years trying to force the government to act on the case of his cousin, Pvt. Arthur “Bud” Kelder, who died as a POW in WWII and whose body was never sent home.

Working from a home he built by hand in Helotes, just north of San Antonio, the gray-haired, lanky Eakin began his search by requesting Bud’s records from the Army.

He got back a remarkable document. Despite horrid conditions, the Americans prisoners had left a road map to find Bud and others like him: the “Cabanatuan POW Camp Death Report.”


The prisoners at the Cabanatuan POW camp where Bud was held by the Japanese had left a road map to find their fellow soldiers who died there. They updated a "Cabanatuan POW Death Report," logging the details of those who died every day. Despite the help it could provide, the military hasn’t used the report to help retrieve the remains of service members who died at the camp.

Barely surviving on a little more than two cups of rice every day, the POWs had still managed to document the deaths of their comrades. It was a monumental task. Of the several thousand prisoners housed at the camp, only about 500 made it out.

Each day, the survivors dug a single unmarked grave to bury that day’s dead. And each day, the officers kept a meticulous ledger of the men who had died. However little that death roster meant in the prison camp, later, the POWs knew, it would be crucial to getting the fallen home.


Bud's hospital records, starting on June 2, 1942 and ending with his death.

The entry for Nov. 19, 1942, lists 14 men. Among them: Private Arthur “Bud” H. Kelder, dead at 4:35 p.m. The 26-year-old had succumbed to pellagra, a vitamin deficiency common among the starved prisoners.

Bud’s parents, unaware of his death for eight more months, kept writing him. On May 20, 1943, Bud’s father wrote, “Dear son, another week has gone and still no word from you. We hope you have a few letters on the way to us.”

Bud’s 34-page file had sat untouched by the government for nearly 60 years, a forgotten folder in a vast repository at the National Archives. Had anyone looked it over, they would have found what Eakin did: The military actually had a pretty good sense of where Bud was.

The files included not only a date for Bud's death, but also a specific grave for him. After the war, the Army had gone to the POW camp to dig up and identify the bodies of more than 2,700 men who died there. Using the Cabanatuan camp report and recollections of the survivors, the Army numbered the communal graves and matched them with the death list.Bud and 13 others had been in Grave 717.


At the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, this headstone marks grave A-12-195 where Eakin believes Bud is buried. It is the same headstone for thousands of unknown service members. (Courtesy of John Eakin)

Limited by the science of the time, the Army was able to identify and send home four men from that grave but not Bud. In the early 1950s, the remaining 10, along with more than 900 others who died at Cabanatuan, were reburied individually as unknowns in an American cemetery in Manila. White crosses marked their graves, bearing the words “Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade in Arms. Known but to God.”

To Eakin, it seemed obvious that Bud was among the 10 unidentified sets of remains from Grave 717 — a relatively small group of bones that the military could dig up and test against the DNA of family members. He tried to make it easier for the Pentagon by tracking down relatives of the men in the grave, so they could provide DNA for comparison. He even turned over an envelope Bud had licked.

Eakin said he thought identifying Bud would be "such a no-brainer.”

Reviewing details of the case later, Joshua Hyman, the head of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s DNA Sequencing Facility, described it as a “piece of cake.”

But no one in the military seemed to show much interest. Every month, Eakin called the Army, asking, “When are you going to go dig up these remains?”

Bud’s fate rested with Holland and J-PAC’s lab on a joint Navy-Air Force base in Honolulu.

With his beard, slightly ruffled appearance, and a penchant for storytelling, Holland has the air of a liberal arts professor. Walking through the hallway outside his lab, he pointed proudly to displays of artifacts found with recovered remains: Tattered uniforms, faded, crinkled pictures and pineapple-shaped grenades.

Holland joined J-PAC in 1992 and has spent his entire scientific career there, becoming the lab's director in 1995. “The lab has been his life,” said Mark Leney, a former J-PAC anthropologist who worked with Holland for six years. “He has an enormous sense of ownership of it.”

Though J-PAC is a military command, the generals who rotate in and out for temporary assignments take no role in the scientific decisions, leaving them to Holland. Almost a dozen current and former staffers described Holland as someone who bridles at being challenged and fiercely protects his fiefdom.

“Expressing dissent was clearly not appreciated and frowned on,” said Leney, who now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Leney said he and another anthropologist wrote Holland a memo in 2002 about problems with procedures and standards at the lab. They asked for guidance and clarification. “Here is my guidance:Don’t ever write a memo like this again unless it is stapled to your resignation,” Holland wrote back.

J-PAC currently has about 500 employees, including historians and military logisticians to coordinate overseas digs, but it’s work in the lab that people are most likely to conjure. The lab has even been featured on the new “Hawaii Five-0.” (Holland had a cameo.) Holland’s longtime work at the lab recently earned him a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Swiping his badge and entering the bright, sterile lab, which is not much bigger than a classroom, Holland walked by 16 long metal tables with bones laid out, some with a complete skeletons, and others with pieces of bone that look like piles of jagged stones. Some bones were grayed out like seashells, and others were dark brown, almost burnt looking – the different colors betraying the countries in which they were found. Vietnam’s acidic ground bites at bones, leaving them pitted. One skeleton had a green-tinted sternum and ribs, a patina from oxidation of a copper belt with bullets that was strapped to the vet’s chest.

“There’s no formula that applies to every case,” Holland said.

Under Holland’s direction, J-PAC’s lab hasn’t prioritized DNA analysis, despite it being an advancement that has revolutionized forensic science. J-PAC’s method begins with historians sifting through archival material to start to narrow down who someone might be.

“It may be 100 people, 200 people, 500 people, that’s fine,” Holland said.

Time Since Eakin Gave Military Evidence on Bud

2    9    7    10    25    0
years    months    days    hours    minutes    seconds

On June 11, 2011, Eakin filed a formal petition with the Army detailing all the evidence suggesting his cousin Bud could be found. The military has declined to move ahead with the case.

Then they compare bones to dental charts and other medical records. Combining that with archaeological analysis and artifacts, they try to winnow down the list to one person. DNA comes in last, only as a confirmation tool.

Scientists engaged in similar work elsewhere do the opposite. They start with DNA and let it drive the process, taking samples from bones they dig up and cross-referencing them against databases of DNA from the families of the missing to find a match.

“It’s how you get people identified these days,” said Clyde Snow, one of the world’s foremost forensic anthropologists. “It opened up a whole new world for us.”

Since the earlier 2000s, the DNA-led approach has been used in more than 30 countries to efficiently identify casualties of mass tragedies, including the United States after Sept. 11.

In post-conflict Bosnia, scientists initially used the traditional anthropological techniques that J-PAC relies on now and identified only seven out of the more than 4,000 bodies from the Srebrenica massacre, according to Ed Huffine, a forensic scientist who later designed a DNA-led process there.  

Once they turned to DNA, Huffine said, they were able to make 400 identifications per month at the peak of their efforts.

J-PAC does occasionally start from DNA when bones from many people have been mixed together – as they have done with a complicated case involving 500 co-mingled remains from the Korean War.

But Holland’s deputy at J-PAC, John Byrd, said the lab rarely needs to resort to that. While using DNA first makes sense in places like Bosnia, where authorities lacked medical records for the missing, the U.S. military keeps copious records. And even advocates of DNA agree that relying on records can make sense in some cases.

J-PAC has also faced cases in which DNA wasn’t an option. Soldiers buried as unknowns from the Korean War were embalmed, making DNA extraction impossible. Holland’s team developed a much-admired innovation to get around that limitation, matching clavicle bones to chest radiographs taken to screen for tuberculosis.


But those cases are an exception. Typically, Holland’s lab has been able to extract DNA, including on all WWII cases it has worked on. 

“If we worked together, concentrating on DNA, we could decrease greatly the time it takes to make identifications,” said a current J-PAC anthropologist.

Holland insists his process works. Making an identification “is an awesome burden,” Holland said, sitting in his paper-strewn office. Sticky notes act as a Rolodex, one wall displays dozens of photocopies of his hand with notes he wrote on his palm during meetings, and on a shelf in his bookcase are copies of two novels he penned – starring a fictionalized version of himself.  “At the end of the day, I carry that burden.”

“If there is a better way to do it, I’m willing to take a look at it, but at some point the government pays me to do my job,” he said in a measured cadence that conveyed both annoyance and self-restraint. “And clearly I’m biased here, but I think I do a fairly good job.”

Holland’s job has been made harder by the overall military’s failure to systematically collect and sort comparison DNA samples from family members of the missing.

Scientists in Argentina, where around 9,000 disappeared in the country’s “dirty war,” started assembling a database of such samples even before they had the technology to analyze them.

“We were collecting samples even though there was no possibility to process them, but the relatives were dying,” said Mercedes Doretti, co-founder of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. Later, Argentina launched a national campaign — funded in part by the U.S. government — to collect more DNA, using famous actors and soccer teams to promote it.


This letter to Ann Lander's newspaper column is what J-PAC's leadership points to as an example of their outreach efforts to collect DNA samples from the families of MIA's. See a larger version. (Courtesy of J-PAC)

There has been no such campaign in the U.S. In an era of Facebook and Twitter, J-PAC officials heralded a 2001 Pentagon letter that ran in the widely syndicated “Ask Ann Landers” column. It didn’t work. Fewer samples came in after the letter than before, an Army official said.

Huffine and other experts say using DNA effectively requires one central database and single authority overseeing it. But the Pentagon has six different agencies handling aspects of DNA testing and collection, spread out from Hawaii to Delaware. Each military branch is tasked with collecting samples from relatives of the missing from their service.

The Pentagon has relatively complete records for Vietnam and Korea but only a fraction of the needed samples from WWII. Nothing was on record for Bud or the others from Grave 717 until Eakin got involved.

The Army organizes its samples broadly by war and not by theater, major battle or event. Officials said they had no way to discern how many samples they had in hand related to the Cabanatuan unknowns, for example.

Once the military does get DNA samples, there are further delays. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, which processes samples for J-PAC, takes 110 days on average to sequence DNA, much longer than commercial labs.

“Just waiting for DNA and trying to find a donor for DNA” from a family member — “a lot of the pauses in progress occur there,” a former J-PAC anthropologist said.

Eakin first heard of Bud as a teenager, when, looking at framed photographs on the wall, he asked about a black-and-white photo of a young man he didn’t recognize.

“That’s Bud,” his grandfather told him in a quiet voice.

“That was the only time I saw my grandpa cry,” Eakin recalled.

The correspondence Bud’s parents had from the military ended in 1950 with a letter telling them that Bud was “not recoverable” and “should any additional evidence come to our attention indicating that his remains are in our possession, you will be informed immediately.”

His parents died in the 1960s, without any resolution about their son.

How Eakin found Bud

Combing through historical records, Eakin learned that his cousin Bud was one of 14 ‘unknowns’ buried in grave 717. Here is how he narrowed it further.

1946

Out of the 14 bodies found in Grave 717, the Army immediately identifies Daniel Bain from his dog tag.

1948, Two Years Later

The Army identifies three more men, and send them home for burial.

2011, 63 Years Later

After looking at the dental records of all 10 bodies remaining, John Eakin finds that only one had gold inlays. Bud had gold inlays.

Herman Kelder was Bud’s only sibling. He left his son, Doug, a file box full of documents. Doug and Ron Kelder, Bud’s cousin, have looked to the dogged Eakin to solve the family mystery.

Bud’s story wasn’t meaningful to Eakin just because he was family. As a rowdy teenager in rural Indiana, Eakin joined the Army after a night of drinking with his buddies and did two tours in Vietnam. He wouldn’t easily give up on the cousin who hadn’t been as lucky as he was to make it home.

In the spring of 2010, Eakin had two breakthroughs.

He tracked down an audio tape recorded by Bud’s older brother in 1994, shortly before he died.

“I got out of dental school in 1935,” Herman Kelder said on the tape. As he started to build his practice, he had worked on Bud and “put some gold inlays in his mouth where he had some silver fillings.”

Distinctive dental work like that could help identify Bud among the 10 unknowns from Grave 717, Eakin realized. Perhaps the military had noted in its files if any of the bodies had gold inlays.

A week after making the discovery, Eakin attended a meeting hosted by the Defense Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Office, or DPMO, another Pentagon agency whose mission overlaps with J-PAC’s. The meeting’s purpose was to update family members on the search for their loved ones, but officials told Eakin that even aided by his new information, Bud was unlikely ever to be identified.

Not long after that, Eakin received a package in the mail from a sympathetic source inside the Pentagon: It contained what the government calls X-files for the 10 unknowns buried in Grave 717.

When the military couldn’t identify a set of remains in the years after WWII, it put all the documentation it had assembled — where the body was found, skeletal details and dental charts — into a file assigned an X-number to stand in for a name. There are about 8,500 X-files from World War II.

Eakin went through the X-files for the bodies in Grave 717. Only one — X-816 — had gold inlays.


The unknown body from Grave 717 labelled X-816 had gold inlays, as shown here in the dental chart. Out of the 14 men from that group grave, this body was the only one with such dental work. Searching for Bud's remains in 2010, his cousin John Eakin learns that Bud had gold inlays put in before the war. Eakin surmises that X-816 is Bud. (Courtesy of John Eatkin)

Eakin was ecstatic that the clues led so directly to his cousin. Unknown soldier X-816 — seemingly, Bud — was buried in grave A-12-195 in the Manila American Cemetery. Eakin went back to the Army that April, thinking, “We’ll have him home in a week.”

By September, the only progress the government had made was to produce a research memo on Bud’s case. Heather Harris, a DPMO historian, concluded that the archival evidence — mainly the death report ledger that the POWs had kept at Cabanatuan — was unreliable and therefore insufficient to warrant disinterment. She also noted another complication: Some of the remains appeared to have been commingled when they were first disinterred in the 1940s. It was possible that identifications made then had been wrong.

On Sept. 21, a J-PAC dentist compared the dental records in the Grave 717 X-files with other dental records for the 10 men buried in that grave. He couldn’t conclusively match any of them. There’s no indication in the report that Herman Kelder’s taped statement about Bud’s gold inlays was part of the analysis.

Eakin had hit another wall.

By this time, proving X-816 was really Bud had become an obsession. Eakin was prone to such quests. When serious injuries from a helicopter crash ended his career as a pilot in the mid-’80s, Eakin combed through FAA data to understand the cause of the accident. He couldn’t simply file it away as an unfortunate accident and move on.

“I had to know why it fell out the sky,” he said.

Teaching himself to write computer software, he turned the agency’s 4-foot stack of 9-track tapes into a searchable database, then sold the agency his improved version of its own data. Consulting on aviation accidents became Eakin’s full-time job.


A local newspaper wrote stories about Private Arthur “Bud” Kelder after he was taken as a POW by the Japanese in the Philippines. This article shows his parents writing letters to him through the International Red Cross. (Courtesy of John Eakin)

“If J-PAC thinks he’s going to give up, they’re wrong,” said Jean Eakin, his wife of 38 years.

Increasingly frustrated by the military’s inaction, Eakin broadened his efforts beyond Bud. After a drawn-out battle with the Department of Defense, Eakin obtained access to all World War II and Korea X-files, more than 9,400 in all. Then he built a database with material from 3,000 files for unknowns buried along with Bud in the American cemetery in Manila, methodically entering information for weeks in the evenings.

He discovered that all the way back in the 1940s, the military had made tentative identifications for more than half of those X-files, tying each set of remains to a few service members or, in some cases, just one. Many of the cases seemed as solvable as Bud’s. In one instance, Eakin concluded, a Silver Star recipient had never been identified because his name was spelled wrong.

“It’s not rocket science,” he told anyone who would listen.

Eakin didn’t understand why the military didn’t just exhume all the men who had been buried in Grave 717.

While some oppose focusing on disinterments, arguing those men have already been found, the Pentagon began encouraging J-PAC to exhume more unknowns 15 years ago based on the emerging promise of DNA. J-PAC has done just 111 disinterments since then. Half of those were exhumed in the past two years, in part a response to the mounting pressure to make more IDs.

“The laboratory is pursuing disinterments very aggressively,” Holland said.

J-PAC recently set a goal to dig up 150 sets of remains per year by 2018. Even at that pace, the agency would need until about 2081 just to get the 9,400 unknown World War II and Korea service members out of the ground.

Holland approves just a handful of the disinterment requests that come across his desk. Cases go first to the head of the disinterment unit, who dismisses about 80 percent of them, Holland said. The rest go to Holland, who said he rejects another 80 percent. That means only 4 percent of cases considered for disinterment move forward.

Holland said he is “handcuffed” by a 1999 Pentagon policy that requires a “high probability of identification” before exhumation.

There is disagreement within the military about whether the policy is still in effect. Officials at DPMO, which frequently squabbles with J-PAC, say it isn’t.

“It’s J-PAC’s choice,” said Navy Capt. Doug Carpenter, chief of accounting policy for DPMO. “How they choose to hold themselves accountable for disinterment is up to J-PAC, and they do a fine job.”

Regardless, Holland has the power to define the exact standard for disinterment. He has imposed strict parameters for how many people a set of remains could possibly be before moving forward to dig them up: typically, no more than five. He will not lower the threshold even in instances where comparison DNA could be used to identify disinterred remains.


Holland might still be smarting from a 2003 blunder in which J-PAC dug up remains of unidentified sailors who had been on the USS Oklahoma when it sunk in Pearl Harbor. Agency officials had failed to investigate the historical archives adequately and exhumed a container with bones from hundreds of people instead of the five they were expecting.

After this, the Pentagon decided to halt any further Oklahoma cases and required additional layers of bureaucratic approval for disinterments, but as a practical matter it is still Holland who makes the calls.

McKeague, the military commander of J-PAC, now has to endorse disinterment requests approved by Holland. Asked whether he ever questions Holland’s judgment, McKeague held up his hand like a stop sign and said that lab decisions were squarely Holland’s domain.

“His credentials are impeccable,” McKeague said.

The request next goes to DPMO, which has its own historians check the work, then to the assistant secretary of the Army for final approval, but the Army has never turned J-PAC down.

Holland acknowledged that what he called the Pentagon’s “knee-jerk” reaction to the USS Oklahoma mess left him reluctant to push for disinterments for fear of losing more autonomy. He expressed concern about having bodies that J-PAC can’t identify stack up in his lab.

“I might have a certain amount of discretion in how I interpret ‘high probability,’ but that discretion will be taken away from me” should the ratio of exhumed graves to identifications get out of balance, he said. “I guess in that sense, I am a little risk averse.”

In January 2011, Eakin’s persistence finally seemed to spur some progress.

J-PAC anthropologist Paul Emanovsky examined the cases of the 14 men who had been buried in Grave 717 in Cabanatuan, including Bud’s, and concluded that identifications were possible.

“I think it’s worth pursuing these cases, there are some pretty strong correlations for a couple of causalities, and others are reasonable,” Emanovsky wrote in a previously undisclosed email to Holland and the lab manager, John Byrd.

Regardless of the likely poor condition of the bones, “I think that all hope is not lost,” Emanovsky’s note said. Since the bones of the soldiers might have been commingled, he advised exhuming them all and comparing them with DNA from family members. “We could potentially identify several of these individuals,” he said.

Ten months later, the head of J-PAC’s office of disinterment reviewed the case and echoed Emanovsky’s findings in a brief memo, noting that while the bones were “eroded,” DNA “may help in identification of remains from Common Grave 717."

The memo was sent to Holland on Oct. 19, 2011. Even then, he did not act to disinter Bud and the others and carry out DNA testing.

At another family update meeting in Texas on Feb. 26, 2012, Eakin met with Johnnie Webb, J-PAC’s external relations chief. Despite the reports from members of the agency’s staff supporting disinterment, Webb told Eakin there was no evidence to support further investigation into Bud’s case.

Eakin had had enough. “We waited and waited and finally filed a lawsuit in federal court,” he said.

On Oct. 18, 2012, Eakin sued the Department of Defense, naming the secretary of defense, Webb and the head of DPMO, in United States District Court in Texas to force them to disinter Bud and the other World War II unknowns.

The lawsuit has survived several government motions to dismiss.

In a January 2013 memo prompted by the suit, Holland cited the policy that, again, he himself interprets. 

“No definitive individual associations could be established based on the available documentation,” he wrote. “While it is possible that one or more individuals could be realized if all unknown remains from this incident were disinterred for analysis, the existing and available data do not meet the level of scientific certainty required by current DoD disinterment guidance.”

Citing the suit, J-PAC and DPMO declined to comment on any specifics of Bud’s case.

After years of fruitless struggle, Eakin has become convinced that J-PAC’s “job is justifying doing nothing — and they do their job well.”

It’s unclear whether the law will come down on Eakin’s side, but there’s reason to believe the judge is sympathetic to his claim.

“Notwithstanding giving his last full measure of devotion to this country,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote, “Private Kelder’s government declines, on technical legal reasons as opposed to spirit of the law, to give him a decent burial in a marked grave alongside others who died in service to the United States.”

The Kelders want to put Bud in the family crypt in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago where Bud grew up. That’s where Bud’s parents, who so badly wanted to bring their boy home, are interred.

“All this isn’t about just digging up a bunch of old bones. This is about giving a family closure,” Eakin said. “These men gave their all, and we can at least give them their names on their headstone.”

Additional research by Gerald Rich. Additional design and development by Lena Groeger.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the wife of John Eakin was Joan. In fact, her name is Jean.


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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pentagon-agency-slow-to-id-return-remains-of-americas-fallen/

ByCHIP REIDCBS NEWSFebruary 18, 2014, 7:34 PM
Pentagon agency slow to ID, return remains of America's fallen
ARLINGTON, Va. – There are 83,000 Americans missing tonight.

They are troops who have never been accounted for in wars, from World War II to the present day.

A Pentagon agency called the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, is in charge of finding, identifying and returning their remains.

But CBS News has found this solemn mission has been undermined by lapses in management.

In 2012, for example, JPAC spent $100 million, but identified only 80 of the missing. 

Army Lt. Robert Fenstermacher died in 1944 when his plane crashed in Belgium. His remains weren't recovered until last year. CBS NEWS
Army Lt. Robert Fenstermacher died in 1944 when his plane crashed in Belgium. His remains weren't recovered until last year. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in October.
"I think when we send an American to war and they're killed in action, it has clearly been the tradition of this country to bring them home," said his nephew, Bob Fenstermacher.

But Lt. Fenstermacher's remains were not found by the U.S. government. They were discovered by one of the private groups that have stepped in where the Pentagon's JPAC has failed.

Last year the Government Accountability Office said the missing persons mission is "being undermined by longstanding leadership weaknesses."

CBS News obtained an internal memo, written by a JPAC scientist, which alleges JPAC had a pattern of mishandling remains and failing to file critical reports, resulting in "abuse of scientific ethics" and "considerable wasted funds."

Congress ordered the Pentagon to increase identifications to 200 a year. At JPAC's headquarters in Hawaii, CBS News caught up with the commander, Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague, brought in to meet the congressional mandate.

McKeague: "It's going to take more time. It's going to take more resources."

CBS News: "You're not going to make that deadline?"

McKeague: "We're not."

CBS News: Was Congress unreasonable in making that deadline?

McKeague: "I think Congress did not understand, did not really appreciate, the complexity of how tough this business is."

Complex, McKeague said, because remains are often badly degraded and frequently there's no DNA with which to make a match.

Lt. Robert Fenstermacher's remains were found by a private charity called History Flight. Mark Noah is its founder.

"Within the first hour, we'd found the first of the machine guns with matching serial numbers to the missing aircraft," Noah said.

Noah, a commercial pilot, sells rides on antique warplanes to raise money for his search.

"I tell people I do this work for the souls of the missing and the families they left behind," he said.

In 10 years, he's found several hundred remains, which he turns over to JPAC's lab for identification.

In 2013, he turned over 50 American remains from World War II found on the Pacific island of Tarawa. A JPAC team sent there three years earlier recovered three.

Some supporters of Noah say that dollar for dollar, he does a better job than JPAC. CBS News asked McKeague if that was a fair assessment.

"I don't think that's fair from the standpoint that Mark is focused on certain areas on certain cases. Ours is a worldwide mission," McKeague said.

Deno Zazzetti's brother Joe died fighting on Tarawa in 1943.

"I'm bitter. I'm upset. I'm upset with JPAC," Zazzetti said. "You can't get the answers from the people that you think should have the answers. With Mark Noah, I get some answers and I know he's trying and I know he's accomplished something."

Zazzetti, who is 84, hopes that he will live long enough to see his brother's remains found. He said he wants to "bring him back, bury him next to my mother. That would make her happy."

Congress has increased JPAC's budget by more than $300 million in the hope that it will make good on the promise to bring America's heroes home.=

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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POW/MIA RADIO:

 

POW/MIA Radio

 

All,

 

Our scheduled guests on POW/MIA Radio for Sunday, March 16, 2014 are:

 

2:00pm Mtn – News and Views:  An hour of the latest POW/MIA and veterans issues.

 

3:00 – 5:00pm Mtn – Mr. Paul Clever and Mr. Danny Russell:  Paul and Danny helped found Maximum Recovery in Southeast Asia (MRSEA) in August, 2011.  The group is made up of former DIA, USAFSS, NSA and CIA military and civilian personnel from the Vietnam Era.  Their immediate goal was to locate the CAP 72 crash site and return American remains to American soil.  CAP 72 was an EC-47Q intelligence gathering platform based on the frame of a DC-3 transport aircraft.  She was shot down on February 5, 1969 while on a mission over Laos.   Paul was six years old when his dad, MSgt. Louis Clever, USAF was shot down on CAP 72 along with nine other crewmembers.  He is a veteran of the US Navy and today works as a Clinical Diagnostic Engineer.  Paul and Danny will discuss MRSEA, their mission and purpose.  Danny is a USAF veteran of the war in Southeast Asia serving as a crewmember on EC-47Q aircraft.  Shot down twice, he survived both crashes.  Danny has since retired from the private sector and enjoys life with his family.  He will discuss the loss of CAP 72 and his work with MRSEA.  For more information, please visit their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/MRSEA.Information . For more information on the EC-47Q aircraft and their missions, please visit the following website:  http://www.talkingproud.us/Military/Det3EC47s/Det3EC47s/Det3EC47sAircraft.html.   

 

PLEASE NOTE:

 

As you know Ms. Lynn O'Shea, Director of Research, National Alliance of Families, the much respected leader in the POW/MIA community, has announced the impending publication of her book, Abandoned In Place, The Men We Left Behind and the Untold Story of Operation Pocket Change, the Joint Special Operations Command Planned Rescue of American POWs Held in Laos Six Years After the End of the Vietnam War.  Release is tentatively scheduled for mid-May to early June.  She has set up a pre-publication website.  Visit http://www.abandonedinplaceblog.com .

 

Our friend, Mr. Bob Smith, has officially made his Formal Declaration of Candidacy for the US Senate in New Hampshire on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  He was a staunch supporter of our POW/MIAs when he was co-chairman of the Senate Select Committee back in the early 1990s.  He continues to remain active in the issue and will make our missing Americans a priority when elected.  Please visit www.bobsmithforussenate.com  for more information.

 

Thanks to our sponsors for this sponsorship period:

 

The National Alliance of Families

Mr. Earl Wood – In honor of four missing Milwaukee area Soldiers and Marines

Ms. Mary Videen – In honor of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Anonymous – In honor of SSGT John C. Keiper, USMC, lost in South Vietnam, November 15, 1966

 

Listen to POW/MIA Radio every Sunday, worldwide, on The American Freedom Network, http://www.americanewsnet.com . We also broadcast locally from KHNC-AM, 1360khz, Johnstown, Colorado.  If you are unable to receive the show on the network's website as listed in your favorites, please delete that bookmark and re-enter the URL in your browser address line.  Please note our listener call-in number, 1-877-254-7524.

 

Rod

 

“ Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it Almighty God!”  Patrick Henry, 1775.

 

 

 

 

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CALIFORNIA:

 

http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_25341966/honoring-fallen-woman-seeks-photos-vietnam-war-victims?source=rss_viewed

Honoring the fallen: Woman seeks photos of Vietnam War victims for memorial

 

Woman collects photos of war dead By DENNIS TAYLOR Herald Staff Writer Posted: 03/13/2014 10:30:11 PM PDT |

 

Two years ago, Janna Hoehn embarked on a quest to find a photograph to... (COURTEST OF JANNA HOEHN) «1»Among the 58,286 names engraved into the black granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., are 70 from Monterey County who died during the war or remain missing in action more than four decades later.

Thirty-six of the fallen residents are part a national search conducted by a California-born resident of Hawaii who, two years ago, embarked on a quest to find a photograph to match every name on the wall.

Janna Hoehn, 58, a Maui resident, volunteers for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's Faces Never Forgotten program. She submits every photo she finds to the organization's online version of the wall — www.vvmf.org/thewall — which posts them on the website with each soldier's name.

The photos are added to the Wall of Faces, a featured attraction at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Education Center, a war museum between the memorial wall and the Lincoln Monument.

"My original idea was to find photos of all 42 of those people from Maui whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial — which I was able to accomplish — but this has turned into a much bigger project than I ever imagined," said Hoehn, who expanded her search to California, and, eventually, the rest of the United States.

"So far, I've collected more than 34,000 photos. I've still got about 24,000 to go, but I get some every day and every one I find is one I don't have to look for anymore."

Hoehn, a florist, spends her spare time looking for 40-year-old obituaries, perusing high school yearbooks, exploring library databases and combing through phone books to track down family members or friends of the dead.

She solicits help from newspapers all over the United States, requesting help from anyone who might have known a fallen soldier still on her list.

"My feeling is that this is an important project," she said. "Even if I don't find a photo that I'm looking for, at least I'm spreading the word about the education center.

"The other thing people should know is that anybody can go on www.vvmf.org/thewall and share stories about people whose names are on the wall," Hoehn said. "Families and friends are so grateful to be able to read those heartfelt stories. And adding a photo — putting a face with the name — changes the dynamic of the Vietnam wall. This was a real person."

Hoehn says she receives photos through the mail or email, and her reaction is always the same.

"First, I feel a pain in my heart because this was a person who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and is no longer with us," she said. "But then I feel a joy that comes from bringing some healing to the family. Some people who send photos actually call me — they just want to talk about the person in the photo — and I love to listen to their stories."

Hoehn has become a fundraiser for the education center, soliciting donations outside supermarkets and box stores, and holding charity dinners.

"I committed to raise $42,000 for the education center — $1,000 for each one of the Maui boys who died in Vietnam — and I reached that goal in less than two years," she said.

A list of the 36 Monterey County residents whose photos Hoehn needs accompanies this article. Anyone who can help her locate a photo of a person on the list can email Hoehn at neverforgotten2014@gmail.com


 

 

 

 

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FLORIDA:

 

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2014/mar/15/hundreds-celebrate-41st-anniversary-of-pow-from/?CID=happeningnow

Hundreds celebrate 41st anniversary of POW release from Vietnam

 

 By KALHAN ROSENBLATT Naples Daily News Posted March 15, 2014 at 9:06 p.m. by LANCE SHEARER

 

Wayne Smith spent over five years as a POW in North Vietnam. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent One thousand eight hundred and eighty-two days. Capt. Wayne Smith counted each one from his 8-foot by 10-foot cell in

 

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http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2014/mar/15/hundreds-celebrate-41st-anniversary-of-pow-from/

Hundreds celebrate 41st anniversary of POW release from Vietnam By KALHAN ROSENBLATT

 March 15, 2014 at 9:06 p.m. .

 

Wayne Smith spent over five years as a POW in North Vietnam. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent One thousand eight hundred and eighty-two days. Capt. Wayne Smith counted each one from his 8-foot by 10-foot cell in the Hoa Lo prison in North Vietnam.

 

 

 

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GEORGIA:

 

http://www.henryherald.com/news/2014/mar/13/march-29-vietnam-veterans-day-in-georgia/

March 29 Vietnam Veterans Day in Georgia

 

.From staff reports Thursday, March 13, 2014  Henry Herald .

 

ATLANTA — Governor Nathan Deal will issue a proclamation declaring March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Georgia.

A ceremony, themed “A Tribute to Georgia’s Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipients,” will be held at 11 a.m. March 25 in the north wing of the State Capitol.

March 25 is also National Medal of Honor Day. The Georgia Department of Veterans Service will individually recognize each of the state’s 12 native sons who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient James E. Livingston (Major General, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps) will be on hand to give remarks.

Also at the ceremony will be Claude M. Kicklighter (Lieutenant General, Retired, U.S. Army), Director of the Department of Defense Office of Commemorations.

“Vietnam veterans deserve our sincere respect, appreciation, and public recognition,” said GDVS Commissioner Pete Wheeler. “We gather to honor the brave Georgians who served in that conflict, and we honor the service of every man and woman who put on a uniform and answered their nation’s call to service.”

Program participants will include the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, the West Atlanta/Douglas Choral Society, and the Westlake High School Junior ROTC.

An estimated 254,000 Georgia residents – approximately one-third of the state’s total veteran population – are Vietnam War veterans. As the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War begins, the Georgia Department of Veterans Service invites all Georgians to pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of these brave men and women.

Vietnam War Facts and Figures:

8.7 million Americans served on active duty

7,391,000 Vietnam War veterans are alive today;

228,000 Georgians served;

1,584 Georgians were killed in action;

8,534 Georgians were wounded in action;

21 Georgians were held as prisoners of war;

35 Georgians are still unaccounted for.

 

 

 

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HAWAII:

 

http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2014/03/10/21410-failing-the-fallen-the-military-is-leaving-the-missing-behind/

Failing the Fallen: The Military Is Leaving the Missing Behind

 

By Megan McCloskey, ProPublica 03/10/2014

U.S. Army

 

Tracing his genealogy online one night, John Eakin landed on a name that evoked an old family sorrow.

Arthur “Bud” Kelder, Eakin’s cousin, had died while a POW during World War II, but his body had never been found. Bud’s parents had sent handwritten letters to the Army for years, asking to have their youngest son’s body returned to them in Illinois.

“It is our hope that his remains may be sent here, for burial at home,” pleaded one.

Six decades later, Eakin, a stubborn Texan who was himself a vet, resolved to find out exactly why Bud had never come home.

Loading In the fall of 2009, Eakin reached out to family members and found that Bud’s older brother had kept a trove of historical documents laying out Bud’s saga: the telegram announcing he was a POW, newspaper clippings, letters sent between Bud and his parents.

Before the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Bud had worked as a dental assistant at the American hospital in Manila, a plum assignment in a tropical getaway. In late 1941, the Army private wrote to his parents about saving his paycheck to buy a custom-made sharkskin suit. It “really is a peach,” Bud wrote.

After war broke out in December 1941, Bud was among 12,000 American troops who were besieged by the Japanese for four months on the Bataan peninsula, just south of Manila.

“What I dream is there will be no more separations between us again and we’ll spend more time together,” he wrote to his parents in cursive two months later. “P.S. Mother! Don’t worry about me.”

The Americans surrendered on April 9, 1942. The Japanese made Bud a driver during the infamous five-day, 65-mile Bataan Death March. He eventually ended up at Cabanatuan, one of the largest POW camps for American troops.

When Eakin tried to figure out what happened next, he ran into an unexpected roadblock.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million a year to find men like Bud, following the ethos of “leave no man behind.” Yet it solves surprisingly few cases, hobbled by overlapping bureaucracy and a stubborn refusal to seize the full potential of modern forensic science. Last year, the military identified just 60 service members out of the about 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, around 45,000 of whom are considered recoverable.

At the center of the military’s effort is a little-known agency, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, and its longtime scientific director, Tom Holland. He alone assesses whether the evidence J-PAC has assembled is sufficient to identify a set of remains: A body goes home only if he signs off.

Over Holland’s 19-year tenure, J-PAC has stuck with an outdated approach that relies primarily on historical and medical records even as others in the field have turned to DNA to quickly and reliably make identifications.

Though finding missing service members can be difficult — some were lost deep in Europe’s forests, others in Southeast Asia’s jungles — Holland’s approach has stymied efforts to identify MIAs even when the military already knows where they are. More than 9,400 service members are buried as “unknowns” in American cemeteries around the world. Holland's lab has rejected roughly nine out of every 10 requests to exhume such graves.

Holland’s cautious approach is animated by a fear of mistakes.

“Our credibility is only as good as our last misidentification,” he said in an interview. “It doesn't matter that I've identified 500 people correctly. If I misidentify one, that’s what going to be the focus. That’s what's going to be on the news. That is what is going to erode the credibility. That’s what I go home with every night.”

The top military official at J-PAC, Gen. Kelly McKeague, said he believed the standards for laboratory work to identify a veteran should be higher than the FBI lab’s standard for a death penalty case. With what J-PAC does, he said, there’s “a lot more at stake.”

In recent years, J-PAC and the other agencies responsible for the MIA program have come under intensifying scrutiny. In 2010, when Congress added World War II to J-PAC’s mission, it mandated at least 200 identifications overall a year by 2015 — a benchmark the agency has already said it will not meet. The problems, including those of DNA, go beyond J-PAC. Last month, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how the military manages the effort.

Time is running out. There are 35,000 missing who experts say are findable from WWII. But the MIA’s closest relatives are dying off — and often with them so are the chances for using DNA to finally identify their long-lost loved ones.

Forgotten Files Working from a home he built by hand in Helotes, just north of San Antonio, the gray-haired, lanky Eakin began his search by requesting Bud’s records from the Army.

He got back a remarkable document. Despite horrid conditions, the Americans prisoners had left a road map to find Bud and others like him: the “Cabanatuan POW Camp Death Report.”

Barely surviving on a little more than two cups of rice every day, the POWs had still managed to document the deaths of their comrades. It was a monumental task. Of the several thousand prisoners housed at the camp, only about 500 made it out.

Each day, the survivors dug a single unmarked grave to bury that day’s dead. And each day, the officers kept a meticulous ledger of the men who had died. However little that death roster meant in the prison camp, later, the POWs knew, it would be crucial to getting the fallen home.

The entry for Nov. 19, 1942, lists 14 men. Among them: Private Arthur “Bud” H. Kelder, dead at 4:35 p.m. The 26-year-old had succumbed to pellagra, a vitamin deficiency common among the starved prisoners.

Bud’s parents, unaware of his death for eight more months, kept writing him. On May 20, 1943, Bud’s father wrote, “Dear son, another week has gone and still no word from you. We hope you have a few letters on the way to us.”

Bud’s 34-page file had sat untouched by the government for nearly 60 years, a forgotten folder in a vast repository at the National Archives. Had anyone looked it over, they would have found what Eakin did: The military actually had a pretty good sense of where Bud was.

The files included not only a date for Bud's death, but also a specific grave for him. After the war, the Army had gone to the POW camp to dig up and identify the bodies of more than 2,700 men who died there. Using the Cabanatuan camp report and recollections of the survivors, the Army numbered the communal graves and matched them with the death list.Bud and 13 others had been in Grave 717.

Limited by the science of the time, the Army was able to identify and send home four men from that grave but not Bud. In the early 1950s, the remaining 10, along with more than 900 others who died at Cabanatuan, were reburied individually as unknowns in an American cemetery in Manila. White crosses marked their graves, bearing the words “Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade in Arms. Known but to God.”

To Eakin, it seemed obvious that Bud was among the 10 unidentified sets of remains from Grave 717 — a relatively small group of bones that the military could dig up and test against the DNA of family members. He tried to make it easier for the Pentagon by tracking down relatives of the men in the grave, so they could provide DNA for comparison. He even turned over an envelope Bud had licked.

Eakin said he thought identifying Bud would be "such a no-brainer.”

Reviewing details of the case later, Joshua Hyman, the head of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s DNA Sequencing Facility, described it as a “piece of cake.”

But no one in the military seemed to show much interest. Every month, Eakin called the Army, asking, “When are you going to go dig up these remains?”

Bud’s fate rested with Holland and J-PAC’s lab on a joint Navy-Air Force base in Honolulu.

Honolulu Lab Holds the Key With his beard, slightly ruffled appearance, and a penchant for storytelling, Holland has the air of a liberal arts professor. Walking through the hallway outside his lab, he pointed proudly to displays of artifacts found with recovered remains: Tattered uniforms, faded, crinkled pictures and pineapple-shaped grenades.

Holland joined J-PAC in 1992 and has spent his entire scientific career there, becoming the lab's director in 1995. “The lab has been his life,” said Mark Leney, a former J-PAC anthropologist who worked with Holland for six years. “He has an enormous sense of ownership of it.”

Though J-PAC is a military command, the generals who rotate in and out for temporary assignments take no role in the scientific decisions, leaving them to Holland. Almost a dozen current and former staffers described Holland as someone who bridles at being challenged and fiercely protects his fiefdom.

“Expressing dissent was clearly not appreciated and frowned on,” said Leney, who now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Leney said he and another anthropologist wrote Holland a memo in 2002 about problems with procedures and standards at the lab. They asked for guidance and clarification. “Here is my guidance: Don’t ever write a memo like this again unless it is stapled to your resignation,” Holland wrote back.

J-PAC currently has about 500 employees, including historians and military logisticians to coordinate overseas digs, but it’s work in the lab that people are most likely to conjure. The lab has even been featured on the new “Hawaii Five-0.” (Holland had a cameo.) Holland’s longtime work at the lab recently earned him a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Swiping his badge and entering the bright, sterile lab, which is not much bigger than a classroom, Holland walked by 16 long metal tables with bones laid out, some with complete skeletons, and others with pieces of bone that look like piles of jagged stones. Some bones were grayed out like seashells, and others were dark brown, almost burnt looking – the different colors betraying the countries in which they were found. Vietnam’s acidic ground bites at bones, leaving them pitted. One skeleton had a green-tinted sternum and ribs, a patina from oxidation of a copper belt with bullets that was strapped to the vet’s chest.

“There’s no formula that applies to every case,” Holland said.

Under Holland’s direction, J-PAC’s lab hasn’t prioritized DNA analysis, despite it being an advancement that has revolutionized forensic science. J-PAC’s method begins with historians sifting through archival material to start to narrow down who someone might be.

“It may be 100 people, 200 people, 500 people, that’s fine,” Holland said.

Then they compare bones to dental charts and other medical records. Combining that with archaeological analysis and artifacts, they try to winnow down the list to one person. DNA comes in last, only as a confirmation tool.

Scientists engaged in similar work elsewhere do the opposite. They start with DNA and let it drive the process, taking samples from bones they dig up and cross-referencing them against databases of DNA from the families of the missing to find a match.

“It’s how you get people identified these days,” said Clyde Snow, one of the world’s foremost forensic anthropologists. “It opened up a whole new world for us.”

Since the earlier 2000s, the DNA-led approach has been used in more than 30 countries to efficiently identify casualties of mass tragedies, including the United States after Sept. 11.

In post-conflict Bosnia, scientists initially used the traditional anthropological techniques that J-PAC relies on now and identified only seven out of the more than 4,000 bodies from the Srebrenica massacre, according to Ed Huffine, a forensic scientist who later designed a DNA-led process there.

Once they turned to DNA, Huffine said, they were able to make 400 identifications per month at the peak of their efforts.

J-PAC does occasionally start from DNA when bones from many people have been mixed together – as they have done with a complicated case involving 500 co-mingled remains from the Korean War.

But Holland’s deputy at J-PAC, John Byrd, said the lab rarely needs to resort to that. While using DNA first makes sense in places like Bosnia, where authorities lacked medical records for the missing, the U.S. military keeps copious records. And even advocates of DNA agree that relying on records can make sense in some cases.

J-PAC has also faced cases in which DNA wasn’t an option. Soldiers buried as unknowns from the Korean War were embalmed, making DNA extraction impossible. Holland’s team developed a much-admired innovation to get around that limitation, matching clavicle bones to chest radiographs taken to screen for tuberculosis.

But those cases are an exception. Typically, Holland’s lab has been able to extract DNA, including on all WWII cases it has worked on.

“If we worked together, concentrating on DNA, we could decrease greatly the time it takes to make identifications,” said a current J-PAC anthropologist, who favors using DNA first.

Holland insists his process works. Making an identification “is an awesome burden,” Holland said, sitting in his paper-strewn office. Sticky notes act as a Rolodex, one wall displays dozens of photocopies of his hand with notes he wrote on his palm during meetings, and on a shelf in his bookcase are copies of two novels he penned – starring a fictionalized version of himself. “At the end of the day, I carry that burden.”

“If there is a better way to do it, I’m willing to take a look at it, but at some point the government pays me to do my job,” he said in a measured cadence that conveyed both annoyance and self-restraint. “And clearly I’m biased here, but I think I do a fairly good job.”

Holland’s job has been made harder by the overall military’s failure to systematically collect and sort comparison DNA samples from family members of the missing.

Scientists in Argentina, where around 9,000 disappeared in the country’s “dirty war,” started assembling a database of such samples even before they had the technology to analyze them.

“We were collecting samples even though there was no possibility to process them, but the relatives were dying,” said Mercedes Doretti, co-founder of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. Later, Argentina launched a national campaign — funded in part by the U.S. government — to collect more DNA, using famous actors and soccer teams to promote it.

There has been no such campaign in the U.S. In an era of Facebook and Twitter, J-PAC officials heralded a 2001 Pentagon letter that ran in the widely syndicated “Ask Ann Landers” column. It didn’t work. Fewer samples came in after the letter than before, an Army official said.

Huffine and other experts say using DNA effectively requires one central database and single authority overseeing it. But the Pentagon has six different agencies handling aspects of DNA testing and collection, spread out from Hawaii to Delaware. Each military branch is tasked with collecting samples from relatives of the missing from their service.

The Pentagon has relatively complete records for Vietnam and Korea but only a fraction of the needed samples from WWII. Nothing was on record for Bud or the others from Grave 717 until Eakin got involved.

The Army organizes its samples broadly by war and not by theater, major battle or event. Officials said they had no way to discern how many samples they had in hand related to the Cabanatuan unknowns, for example.

Once the military does get DNA samples, there are further delays. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, which processes samples for J-PAC, takes 110 days on average to sequence DNA, much longer than commercial labs.

“Just waiting for DNA and trying to find a donor for DNA” from a family member — “a lot of the pauses in progress occur there,” a former J-PAC anthropologist said.

The Search for Bud Eakin first heard of Bud as a teenager, when, looking at framed photographs on the wall, he asked about a black-and-white photo of a young man he didn’t recognize.

“That’s Bud,” his grandfather told him in a quiet voice.

“That was the only time I saw my grandpa cry,” Eakin recalled.

The correspondence Bud’s parents had from the military ended in 1950 with a letter telling them that Bud was “not recoverable” and “should any additional evidence come to our attention indicating that his remains are in our possession, you will be informed immediately.”

His parents died in the 1960s, without any resolution about their son.

Herman Kelder was Bud’s only sibling. He left his son, Doug, a file box full of documents. Doug and Ron Kelder, Bud’s cousin, have looked to the dogged Eakin to solve the family mystery.

Bud’s story wasn’t meaningful to Eakin just because he was family. As a rowdy teenager in rural Indiana, Eakin joined the Army after a night of drinking with his buddies and did two tours in Vietnam. He wouldn’t easily give up on the cousin who hadn’t been as lucky as he was to make it home.

In the spring of 2010, Eakin had two breakthroughs.

He tracked down an audio tape recorded by Bud’s older brother in 1994, shortly before he died.

“I got out of dental school in 1935,” Herman Kelder said on the tape. As he started to build his practice, he had worked on Bud and “put some gold inlays in his mouth where he had some silver fillings.”

Distinctive dental work like that could help identify Bud among the 10 unknowns from Grave 717, Eakin realized. Perhaps the military had noted in its files if any of the bodies had gold inlays.

A week after making the discovery, Eakin attended a meeting hosted by the Defense Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Office, or DPMO, another Pentagon agency whose mission overlaps with J-PAC’s. The meeting’s purpose was to update family members on the search for their loved ones, but officials told Eakin that even aided by his new information, Bud was unlikely ever to be identified.

Not long after that, Eakin received a package in the mail from a sympathetic source inside the Pentagon: It contained what the government calls X-files for the 10 unknowns buried in Grave 717.

When the military couldn’t identify a set of remains in the years after WWII, it put all the documentation it had assembled — where the body was found, skeletal details and dental charts — into a file assigned an X-number to stand in for a name. There are about 8,500 X-files from World War II.

Eakin went through the X-files for the bodies in Grave 717. Only one — X-816 — had gold inlays.

Eakin was ecstatic that the clues led so directly to his cousin. Unknown soldier X-816 — seemingly, Bud — was buried in grave A-12-195 in the Manila American Cemetery. Eakin went back to the Army that April, thinking, “We’ll have him home in a week.”

By September, the only progress the government had made was to produce a research memo on Bud’s case. Heather Harris, a DPMO historian, concluded that the archival evidence — mainlythe death report ledger that the POWs had kept at Cabanatuan — was unreliable and therefore insufficient to warrant disinterment. She also noted another complication: Some of the remains appeared to have been commingled when they were first disinterred in the 1940s. It was possible that identifications made then had been wrong.

On Sept. 21, a J-PAC dentist compared the dental records in the Grave 717 X-files with other dental records for the 10 men buried in that grave. He couldn’t conclusively match any of them. There’s no indication in the report that Herman Kelder’s taped statement about Bud’s gold inlays was part of the analysis.

Eakin had hit another wall.

By this time, proving X-816 was really Bud had become an obsession. Eakin was prone to such quests. When serious injuries from a helicopter crash ended his career as a pilot in the mid-’80s, Eakin combed through FAA data to understand the cause of the accident. He couldn’t simply file it away as an unfortunate accident and move on.

“I had to know why it fell out the sky,” he said.

Teaching himself to write computer software, he turned the agency’s 4-foot stack of 9-track tapes into a searchable database, then sold the agency his improved version of its own data. Consulting on aviation accidents became Eakin’s full-time job.

“If J-PAC thinks he’s going to give up, they’re wrong,” said Joan Eakin, his wife of 38 years.

Increasingly frustrated by the military’s inaction, Eakin broadened his efforts beyond Bud. After a drawn-out battle with the Department of Defense, Eakin obtained access to all World War II and Korea X-files, more than 9,400 in all. Then he built a database with material from 3,000 files for unknowns buried along with Bud in the American cemetery in Manila, methodically entering information for weeks in the evenings.

He discovered that all the way back in the 1940s, the military had made tentative identifications for more than half of those X-files, tying each set of remains to a few service members or, in some cases, just one. Many of the cases seemed as solvable as Bud’s. In one instance, Eakin concluded, a Silver Star recipient had never been identified because his name was spelled wrong.

“It’s not rocket science,” he told anyone who would listen.

Eakin didn’t understand why the military didn’t just exhume all the men who had been buried in Grave 717.

While some oppose focusing on disinterments, arguing those men have already been found, the Pentagon began encouraging J-PAC to exhume more unknowns 15 years ago based on the emerging promise of DNA. J-PAC has done just 111 disinterments since then. Half of those were exhumed in the past two years, in part a response to the mounting pressure to make more IDs.

“The laboratory is pursuing disinterments very aggressively,” Holland said.

J-PAC recently set a goal to dig up 150 sets of remains per year by 2018. Even at that pace, the agency would need until about 2081 just to get the 9,400 unknown World War II and Korea service members out of the ground.

Holland approves just a handful of the disinterment requests that come across his desk. Cases go first to the head of the disinterment unit, who dismisses about 80 percent of them, Holland said. The rest go to Holland, who said he rejects another 80 percent. That means only 4 percent of cases considered for disinterment move forward.

Holland said he is “handcuffed” by a 1999 Pentagon policy that requires a “high probability of identification” before exhumation.

There is disagreement within the military about whether the policy is still in effect. Officials at DPMO, which frequently squabbles with J-PAC, say it isn’t.

“It’s J-PAC’s choice,” said Navy Capt. Doug Carpenter, chief of accounting policy for DPMO. “How they choose to hold themselves accountable for disinterment is up to J-PAC, and they do a fine job.”

Regardless, Holland has the power to define the exact standard for disinterment. He has imposed strict parameters for how many people a set of remains could possibly be before moving forward to dig them up: typically, no more than five. He will not lower the threshold even in instances where comparison DNA could be used to identify disinterred remains.

Holland might still be smarting from a 2003 blunder in which J-PAC dug up remains of unidentified sailors who had been on the USS Oklahoma when it sunk in Pearl Harbor. Agency officials had failed to investigate the historical archives adequately and exhumed a container with bones from hundreds of people instead of the five they were expecting.

After this, the Pentagon decided to halt any further Oklahoma cases and required additional layers of bureaucratic approval for disinterments, but as a practical matter it is still Holland who makes the calls.

McKeague, the military commander of J-PAC, now has to endorse disinterment requests approved by Holland. Asked whether he ever questions Holland’s judgment, McKeague held up his hand like a stop sign and said that lab decisions were squarely Holland’s domain.

“His credentials are impeccable,” McKeague said.

The request next goes to DPMO, which has its own historians check the work, then to the assistant secretary of the Army for final approval, but the Army has never turned J-PAC down.

Holland acknowledged that what he called the Pentagon’s “knee-jerk” reaction to the USS Oklahoma mess left him reluctant to push for disinterments for fear of losing more autonomy. He expressed concern about having bodies that J-PAC can’t identify stack up in his lab.

“I might have a certain amount of discretion in how I interpret ‘high probability,’ but that discretion will be taken away from me” should the ratio of exhumed graves to identifications get out of balance, he said. “I guess in that sense, I am a little risk averse.”

In January 2011, Eakin’s persistence finally seemed to spur some progress.

J-PAC anthropologist Paul Emanovsky examined the cases of the 14 men who had been buried in Grave 717 in Cabanatuan, including Bud’s, and concluded that identifications were possible.

“I think it’s worth pursuing these cases, there are some pretty strong correlations for a couple of causalities, and others are reasonable,” Emanovsky wrote in a previously undisclosed email to Holland and the lab manager, John Byrd.

Regardless of the likely poor condition of the bones, “I think that all hope is not lost,” Emanovsky’s note said. Since the bones of the soldiers might have been commingled, he advised exhuming them all and comparing them with DNA from family members. “We could potentially identify several of these individuals,” he said.

Ten months later, the head of J-PAC’s office of disinterment reviewed the case and echoed Emanovsky’s findings in a brief memo, noting that while the bones were “eroded,” DNA “may help in identification of remains from Common Grave 717."

The memo was sent to Holland on Oct. 19, 2011. Even then, he did not act to disinter Bud and the others and carry out DNA testing.

At another family update meeting in Texas on Feb. 26, 2012, Eakin met with Johnnie Webb, J-PAC’s external relations chief. Despite the reports from members of the agency’s staff supporting disinterment, Webb told Eakin there was no evidence to support further investigation into Bud’s case.

Eakin had had enough. “We waited and waited and finally filed a lawsuit in federal court,” he said.

On Oct. 18, 2012, Eakin sued the Department of Defense, naming the secretary of defense, Webb and the head of DPMO, in United States District Court in Texas to force them to disinter Bud and the other World War II unknowns.

The lawsuit has survived several government motions to dismiss.

In a January 2013 memo prompted by the suit, Holland cited the policy that, again, he himself interprets.

“No definitive individual associations could be established based on the available documentation,” he wrote. “While it is possible that one or more individuals could be realized if all unknown remains from this incident were disinterred for analysis, the existing and available data do not meet the level of scientific certainty required by current DoD disinterment guidance.”

Citing the suit, J-PAC and DPMO declined to comment on any specifics of Bud’s case.

After years of fruitless struggle, Eakin has become convinced that J-PAC’s “job is justifying doing nothing — and they do their job well.”

It’s unclear whether the law will come down on Eakin’s side, but there’s reason to believe the judge is sympathetic to his claim.

“Notwithstanding giving his last full measure of devotion to this country,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote, “Private Kelder’s government declines, on technical legal reasons as opposed to spirit of the law, to give him a decent burial in a marked grave alongside others who died in service to the United States.”

The Kelders want to put Bud in the family crypt in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago where Bud grew up. That’s where Bud’s parents, who so badly wanted to bring their boy home, are interred.

“All this isn’t about just digging up a bunch of old bones. This is about giving a family closure,” Eakin said. “These men gave their all, and we can at least give them their names on their headstone.”

 

 

 

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/02/27/family-gets-world-war-ii-casualty-belongings/

Family gets belongings found with remains of American WWII soldier

 

Published February 27, 2014 / FoxNews.com

 

U.S. Marines land on Saipan Beach on June, 15 1944, when they attacked Japanese-held positions. Saipan is the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands. (CNMI Historic Preservation Office) The remains of a Kentucky soldier who disappeared during World War II on the Pacific’s Northern Mariana Islands have finally been returned to his family after 70 years.

The belongings, which include Private First Class William T. Carneal's dog tags, belt buckle, poncho and a 1939 class ring were recovered on the Japanese island of Saipan, where Carneal was killed in July 1944, The Paducah Sun reported.

Carneal enlisted in October 1941. He was reported missing in action in 1944 and declared dead a year later, according to Sandy Hart of the Kentucky Veteran and Patriot Museum.

Despite the evidence found with the remains, the military did not officially declare them to be Carneal's until December, when DNA testing confirmed his identity.

"We kind of feel like now he's home with us," nephew J.T. Carneal told The Paducah Sun after the presentation on Tuesday.

The military believes that William Carneal was killed by a grenade blast during a suicide attack by enemy forces, his nephew told the newspaper. His body was reportedly found with four others under more than 3 feet of clay.

"It's a blessing to us that the whole family now can know what happened and put it to rest," Carneal said. "He gave his life for his country."

Keuntai, a Japanese nonprofit that searches for the bodies of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, and members of the CNMI Historic Preservation, discovered Carneal's remains a year ago and turned them over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

The belongings will remain with Carneal's descendants, except for a dog tag that will be given to the Veterans Museum in Wickliffe.

Although Carneal could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the family decided he should be laid to rest with full military honors next to sister Ruth Anderson at Palestine United Methodist Church in West Paducah, The Paducah Sun reported.

Edward "Earl" Gidcumb, a local World War II veteran who also served in the Pacific theater, said he has offered to play taps.

"So many families exist that don't have any idea where their loved ones are and it's an honor to be involved in this whole thing," Gidcumb said.

 

 

 

 

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Coming soon to Peabody MA:le="MARGIN-TOP: 0px; MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0px" align="left"> POW/MIA Chair of Remembrance

Just met late yesterday afternoon with Chris Tighe VSO officer for the City of Peabody! The City has agreed to install a POW/MIA Chair at City Hall, right in the front left corner. What's nice about this is, that the City has concerts at City Hall, and a lot of other events and all have to enter the front door!! The ceremony will be in conjunction with their annual Memorial Day Parade; and the ceremony itself will be done directly after the ceremonies outside on the lawn in front after the parade.

All riders are WELCOME to come ride in the parade; which will be a first for Peabody, and they're quite excited about having Rolling Thunder and other riders in the procession!

I do know that some of you will be down in DC for Rolling Thunder, but for those at home that weekend, please come out and make a presence!

More details to follow!!

 

 

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March 29 -- we will be serving refreshments to the veterans and their guardians for Honor flight New England. this event will be taking place at the tara hotel in nashua, nh and we only need 1 or 2 people to help with this. a lot of times our extra people help do other duties that need to be done, such as selling shirts, etc. we need to be there by about 11:30 and we always need home baked goods for these events.

April 9 - Packing Day at Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts. We have been invited to attend this and help to pack approximately 200 boxes. If you are interested in attending this, I need your full name and dob by April 1, so that we can get permission for you to go onto the base.

April 13 - 1 pm - Southern New Hampshire Field House in Manchester. Freedom salute for the 237. We are helping several VFW groups serve refreshments that day. Even though the 237th has been home for a bit, this is their welcome home celebration. We need people to help us serve that day. The freedom salute for the 238th will be in may. We adopted both of these groups when they were on active duty so it will be nice to finally meet some of them in person.

April 26 -- Another Honor Flight guardian class. Chris will need a couple of helpers on this day because I will be at my aunts in Mass. This will again be held at the Tara in Nashua.

We still need Easter cards and the little slips of paper I talked about in the other email.

If you are interested in helping out at any of these events, please let me know.

Also, sometime in May we will be having our second annual "sock hop" -- where we get together at the Legion Hall in Milton and have a pot luck supper and the admission is a pair of socks, except this year we are adding boxer shorts and t-shirts to this. we are dealing with the hospital at bagram now and that is the first hospital the wounded are taken to before going on to Germany -- they just come in with the clothes on their backs and a lot of times these are cut off -- so they try to provide them with fresh undergarments and we also need ladies undergarments as well -- so gym shorts and things of that nature would be welcome as well. they said to stick with sizes from medium to extra large. i will let you know when we will be having this event as soon as i can arrange a date that the legion is free for us to use.

if you have any questions or are planning to be at any of these events, please let me know. thank you all so much for your help -- starting with the April events, there will be events going on throughout the spring and summer and we will need your help. God Bless and be well. love, alice and chris, founders, soldiers helpers
 

Hi Everyone ---

Aunt Claire and I need your help! As most of you know, we not only send the necessities and "normal" items to the troops, we make a lot of little "hopeful and loving" things for the troops to have and for the chaplains to hand out, such as the jelly bean prayer I am doing now for the troops.

Well Aunt Claire and I have another project that we will be starting after the jelly beans are done. Someone had the idea of it on Facebook and it was called an antidepressant kit -- we are going to think of another name to call it but it has various little things in it to cheer a person up! So we will be giving some to the homeless vets and to our vets in the nursing home, as well as to our chaplains on active duty. One of the items it mentions (all these little items go in a little tiny baggie with the saying inside) is love and hugs so that you know someone is thinking of you and cares for you. So we would like to have any Soldiers Helpers who are interested, make up pieces of paper -- construction paper -- plain paper, etc. in a size of not more than 2 inches by 2-1/2 inches with a little heart on it or maybe some xoxo's or maybe just a few encouraging words saying you are thinking about them and that you care. and if you would like you can put your name on the back and your town and state so they know they are getting these from all areas of the United States. If you would like to use stickers, thats fine or if you google something like hearts clipheart or anything like that you can get some clipart pieces to use and then just write a little note with it. This is a use your own imagination thing. And please do not worry about sending us too many -- because when we get new groups of soldiers and chaplains we will send more of these -- so we can keep whatever we do not mail now for the future! If you need help getting some clipart - email me and i will help you with that. This project is for people of all ages. People from little children all the way up to our 100 year old friend can do this. The only thing we ask is that you use those dimensions approximately so that we can fit them in the little baggie with the other items. You will see a pix below of the original kit, but as I said we will be renaming it and maybe switching some things around a bit and we will be including a cross in the pocket to show God's love to them as well.

We will not be starting to mail these until after the middle of April, so any help is appreciated.

Under separate cover I am going to send you an event list so that you can post it if you want. Also we are still in need of Easter cards to mail to our troops. All of my contact information is shown below.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me. Thank you for all your help. God Bless, alice and chris. Please feel free to ask school classes or Sunday school or anyone you know that might enjoy doing this. As I said, please use your imagination.

God bless, love, alice

************************************************************* Soldiers Helpers is in need of Easter cards to send to the troops. If you can make some or have children or classes that can make some, please forward them to my address (shown in the signature line) -- we will be mailing Easter items the last week of March. Also if you have any religious pamphlets or Easter items that our chaplains could use, please email me as we have a need for those as well. God Bless and thank you for all your help.



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Soldiers Helpers is in need of Easter cards to send to the troops. If you can make some or have children or classes that can make some, please forward them to my address (shown in the signature line) -- we will be mailing Easter items the last week of March. Also if you have any religious pamphlets or Easter items that our chaplains could use, please email me as we have a need for those as well. God Bless and thank you for all your help.
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Alice and Chris Greenleaf
Soldiers Helpers
21 Fox Lane
Rochester, NH 03867
603-781-4195
pudgyaunt99@aol.com
www.soldiershelpers.com
(under construction!)
Soldiers Helpers on Facebook
Soldiers Helpers In New England, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization

 

 

 

 

 

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NEW JERSEY:

 

http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2014/03/wall_of_heroes_sgt_earl_d_reed_1.html

Wall of Heroes: Sgt. Earl D. Reed

 

By South Jersey Times Gloucester County Times on March 10, 2014 at 6:21 AM

 

Sgt. Earl D. Reed Sgt. Earl D. Reed served with the 758th Bomber Squadron, 459th Bomber Group, Heavy, 15th Air Force, United States Army Air Forces, during World War II.

He was from Paulsboro and the son of Mrs. Ethel C. Ailes.

Reed's squadron of B-24s flew out of Giuilia, Italy, with a mission target of Munich, Germany. At 10:25 a.m., over Reim on June 13, 1944, after the bombing run of Munich, Reed's plane was involved in a mid- air collision, where one report said three men jumped clear and another report said no one could have survived, Reed was reported missing in action and presumed dead, June 13, 1944.

Reed's name is enshrined in perpetuity at the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avoid (Moselle), France.

Reed received the Air Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.

The Wall of Heroes honors the Gloucester County men and women who were killed in action or are missing in action while serving in the U.S. military protecting our freedoms and rights.

The Gloucester County Freeholder Board unveiled The Wall of Heroes on Nov. 11, 2010 at the Gloucester County Justice Complex featuring the likenesses of 100 Heroes.

There are at least 350 Gloucester County residents who never made it home, so there is more work to be done. The community’s assistance in identifying those residents who may be eligible to be placed on the wall is crucial.

The Wall of Heroes consists of framed 5-by-8-inch translucent artistic renderings portraying reasonable likenesses of the persons whom the county is honoring. The wall represents all branches of the military and they are arranged by era.

Because The Wall of Heroes features artistic renderings of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, photographs are of particular importance. If there is no photograph that can be found of the person to be honored, only the name and other key information of the military personnel will be framed on the wall.

Information, applications and eligibility can be found at http://www.co.gloucester.nj.us/depts/v/vaffairs/heroapp/default.asp  or by contacting the Gloucester County Office of Veterans Affairs at 856-401-7660

 

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http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20140314/NJNEWS10/303140051/Rolling-Thunder-Inc-features-local-family-chair-honor-high-school-wrestling-boardwalk-hall-veterans?nclick_check=1

Rolling Thunder Inc. features local family chair of honor high school wrestling boardwalk hall veterans Bound Brook wrestler tells of significance

 

Mar. 15, 2014

 

Members of Rolling Thunder Inc. gather near the 'Chair of Honor' that was dedicated at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The chair, dedicated on March 1, aims to raise awareness of POWs and MIAs — prisoners of war and those listed by the military as missing in action. / PHOTO COURTESY ROLLING THUNDER INC Written by | By Harry Frezza

Filed Under News New Jersey News Whitehouse Station

 

This plaque explains the signficance of the 'Chair of Honor' dedicated on March 1 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic city. The chair aims to raise awareness of POWs and MIAs — prisoners of war and those listed by the military as missing in action. /

 

PHOTO COURTESY ROLLING THUNDER INC.  Paul Berenotto, president of N.J. Chapter IV of Rolling Thunder Inc., speaks at the March 1 dedication of the 'Chair of Honor' at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

 

The chair aims to raise awareness of POWs and MIAs — prisoners of war and those listed by the military as missing in action. / PHOTO COURTESY ROLLING THUNDER INC.

 

Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall was filled to the brim for the NJSIAA wrestling tournament last weekend. One seat, however, wasn’t occupied, nor will it ever be, no matter the event.

Through the efforts of Rolling Thunder Inc., that chair forever will be off limits. It’s part of the nonprofit organization’s Chair for Honor program, which raises awareness of POWs and MIAs — prisoners of war and those listed by the military as missing in action. This particular chair was in place when the building opened in 1929. Paul Berenotto, president of Rolling Thunder Inc. Chapter 4-NJ, is an employee in Boardwalk Hall and worked to make the new Chair of Honor a reality. He helped restore the seat and was there when it was dedicated March 1 at the end of the first period of a hockey game between the Albany Devils and Scranton Penguins. “Our hopes are to have a POW chair in every arena, stadium, ball field, courthouse, library and town hall. Those chairs stand as a constant reminder that we’re not going to let our POWs be forgotten,” said Berenotto. On the Friday after the dedication, more than 335 wrestlers came to the building to compete in the NJSIAA tournament, which drew more than 40,000 spectators over three days. For one of the competitors, Bound Brook senior 106-pounder Gonzalo “Pitey” Limenza, the chair means a bit more to him and his brothers, Diego and Leo. They have had a long connection with Rolling Thunder Inc. through their grandmother and Bridgewater resident Mary Jacobus. Jacobus, raised in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington, has been in the organization since it started 26 years ago. She got involved because of her former husband, Donald, a Vietnam War veteran. She brought the boys to monthly Rolling Thunder Inc. chapter meetings at the Manville Veterans of Foreign Wars post, and they haven’t stopped. Jacobus was the treasurer and in charge of children’s activities. Diego was 6 months old when he met Artie Muller, organization founder and executive director, a resident of the Neshanic section of Hillsborough. Now, Diego and Leo Limenza are college age, and Gonzalo Limenza hopes to wrestle in college next year.

We would go to the meetings and make cards for the veterans,” said Limenza, who placed in the Top 12 of the state tournament. “We were young, but we knew we were doing something good.”

They helped the organization and the organization helped them, their grandmother said. Leo and Gonzalo were born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and moved to the United States along with mother Nadia and father Carlos when they were young. Diego already was in the United States. “They were glad to keep grandmom happy,” Jacobus joked about why they first started coming to meetings. “But they wanted to be Americans. I thought they could learn, learn to be citizens, and they are citizens, and glad to be Americans,” she added. The brothers yearly make a trip to Washington, D.C., for Rolling Thunder’s demonstration on Memorial Day. The brothers have sold patches, pins and other fundraising material, and are involved in other activities. They also hold a candlelight vigil Friday evening of the weekend to honor Gold Star Families, who have lost a family member in the military, and those killed in Vietnam. The main event is held on a stage in front of the reflective pool and facing the Lincoln Memorial. As an 8-year-old, Diego and another junior member recited the Pledge of Allegiance on the stage before a massive crowd. “I like to support the people who have been in the service, it’s nice to give them the support, nice for them to know that when they come home, they have people who really, really care about them,” Limenza said.

 

 

 

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Veterans, active-duty service members and veterans service organizations were in the spotlight at the State Capitol on February 17 for Military & Veterans’ Day at the Legislature. The annual day during the Legislature is presented by the New Mexico Departments of Veterans’ Services and Military Affairs to honor New Mexico’s military community. New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Timothy Hale and New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General Andrew Salas honored the service of New Mexico’s military community, thanking them for defending the freedoms Americans enjoy today. “The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, past and present, has allowed Americans the freedom to live as we choose,” said General Salas at the beginning of a special noon ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. “I want to thank you for the service and sacrifice you have endured in protecting me, my family, and all Americans.” This year’s theme was "Honoring Our Veterans’ Service Organization Partnerships.” NMDVS Secretary Hale thanked the numerous federal, state and community partnerships for being part of a strong coordinated service effort. He spoke on behalf of scheduled speaker Governor Susana Martinez, who was unable to attend due to a last-minute scheduling conflict. During the Secretary’s remarks, he singled out The Albuquerque YWCA Henderson House, the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Veterans’ Integration Center, and the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope in Las Cruces for their work in dealing with veteran homelessness. “In life, there are groups that I like to call ‘thermometers’ and ‘thermostats.’ Thermometers simply take a temperature, and merely report the result,” said NMDVS Secretary Hale. “These three agencies do more than just take temperatures. Whereas a thermometer simply measures the status--either hot or cold--a good thermostat analyzes that temperature, and then seeks to change and correct it. These organizations seek change.” During the ceremony, the oldest veterans in attendance were asked to stand and come to the podium to be thanked for their service. Given a standing ovation were: Mary Cox and Priscilla Rae Mares—two U.S. Navy veterans who served during the Vietnam War and were recognized as the two oldest women veterans in the crowd. Joining them were five WWII-era veterans: former New Mexico Adjutant General Franklin Miles, David Townsend (Army), Andres Gonzales (Army), Paul Romero (Army), and U.S. Marine/former Code Talker Thomas Begay. All seven received an enthusiastic standing ovation for the packed Rotunda crowd. Also honored in the ceremony were the twenty-one of New Mexico’s 112 legislators who are veterans. Asked to stand to be recognized and thanked with applause were four state Senators: Craig Brandt, John Pinto, William Payne and William Sharer. (continued on next page) New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General Andrew Salas delivers the Opening Remarks at the February 17 “Military & Veterans Day at the Legislature” ceremony at the State Capitol Rotunda in Santa Fe. Page 3 The sixteen member of the House of Representative are: Eliseo Alcon, Thomas Anderson, Don Bratton, Ernest Chavez, Sharon Clahchischilliage, Nathan Cote, George Dodge, Jimmie Hall, Larry Larrañaga, Rodolfo Martinez, Rick Miera, Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, Nick Salazar, Edward Sandoval, Luciano “Lucky” Varela, James White, and Bob Wooley. During his remarks, NMDVS Secretary Timothy Hale thanked and presented Certificates of Appreciation to the Executive Directors of three organizations for their work in helping homeless veterans..

 

 

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Veterans Invited to Share their Military Experience for Videotaped “Veterans History Project” Veterans regardless of era served or combat/non-combat status are invited to share their experience serving our country with interviewers who will be videotaping responses for submittal to the National Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. Family members or non-veterans who have supported service members are also invited to share their experience. The event takes place at 10am on March 8 at Noblin Funeral Service in Belen, located at 418 West Reinken Avenue. Participants are also encouraged to bring photographs, mementos and other memorabilia for supporting documentation. New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Timothy Hale is scheduled to deliver the opening remarks. Students from the University of New Mexico’s VC Digital Media and History Departments have also been invited to attend. The project was launched with the goal of preserving the stories and honoring the sacrifice by those who have served country-- or those who have supported our men and women of the military. Veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are especially encouraged to attend and share their experiences. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), our nation’s older veterans are passing away at the rate of nearly one thousand a day (according to the VA, 600 WWII veterans alone are dying every day). With these deaths, all too often their memories and stories die along with them. Interviewers with video cameras will record the stories told by veterans for submission to the Veterans History Project. Once submitted, these stories will be archived at the National Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for passing down to future generations. In addition to sharing their stories, all veterans will receive a copy of their recorded story, courtesy of Noblin Funeral Services and the UNM VC Digital Media Department. For more information, contact Noblin Funeral Service at (505) 864-4448.

 

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“Wall That Heals” Half-Size Replica of Nat’l Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall to Stop in Santa Fe A half-sized replica of the National Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be arriving at San-ta Fe on March 18 for a six-day stop. The Wall That Heals is scheduled to arrive at Ft. Marcy Park at 1pm on Tuesday, March 18. The 18-wheel truck carrying the Wall will be escorted by motorcycle-riding members of the American Legion Riders Post 26 and the Patriot Guard Riders on the Wall’s last leg of its arrival into the city. The truck will remain parked overnight at the park. Set up of the 250-foot-long wall will begin the next day (Wednesday, March 19) at 8am. It is scheduled to open to the public at 4pm. There is no charge for visitation or viewing. The site will remain open 24-hours a day until 6am on Monday, March 24, when the Wall will then be disassembled in preparation for travel to its next stop in San Antonio, TX. The Wall That Heals was unveiled in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Fund (VVMF)—the organization which manages the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall bearing the names of the 58,286 service members killed in action during the Vietnam War. The names of 398 New Mexicans are among those etched in the beautiful granite memorial. The half-sized Wall That Heals consists of 24 powder-coated aluminum panels—each one bearing six col-umns of names. According to the VVMF, the traveling half-sized replica of the National Wall tours the country with three goals in mind: To honor the KIA’s and all who served in the war, to educate the public about the war, and to allow the many thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing the National Wall to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin

 

SCHEDULE OF SANTA FE EVENTS In addition to the round-the-clock viewing opportunity, the public is invited to attend numerous events scheduled during stop of The Wall That Heals in Santa Fe. On Thursday, March 20, mayor-elect of Javier Gonzales Santa Fe, Vietnam Veterans of America State President Henry Urioste and other city officials are scheduled to be among the Guests of Honor at an 11am Welcoming Ceremony. On Friday, March 21, the Wall will remain on its 24-hour “open” status for free public visitation and view-ing. On Saturday, March 22 at 5pm, the names of all 398 New Mexicans killed in action in the Vietnam War will be read aloud by members of the New Mexico Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers during a special Candlelight Vigil. The names of the 398 are among the names of the 58,286 fallen Vietnam soldiers etched on the national Memorial Wall. A pre-vigil procession will be led by the Northern New Mexico Chap-ter of the Blue Stars Mothers of America.

Saturday, March 22 (continued) New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Timothy Hale, New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General Andrew Salas, and Santa Fe Vet Center Team Leader and Vietnam veteran Milo Garcia are scheduled speak at the ceremony. U.S. Air Force Chaplain William Toguchi Chaplain Toguchi has been invited to give the Invocation. He is one of only two active-duty military personnel who saw combat action in Vietnam. On Sunday, March 23, Governor Susana Martinez has been invited as the Keynote Speaker at an 11am Honoring Ceremony. A history of The Wall will be read by Tim Tetz, the Director of Outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the organization which helped build both the traveling and national Memorial Wall. Mr. Tetz will also honor and thank Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Northern New Mexico Chapter 996 for its work in making New Mexico the first state to collect the pictures when the VVMF’s nationwide Call for Photos project was launched in 2009. The photos are being gathered for a digital display to be featured in a planned national Vietnam War Museum in Washington, D.C. Recently-retired VA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs and former NMDVS Secretary John M. Garcia is also scheduled to deliver the Welcome Address. USAF Lt. Col. William Toguchi has also been invited to deliver the Invocation. There is no admission fee for the public to visit The Wall That Heals or for any of the ceremonies. Parking is also free, but is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact VVA Chapter 996 member Art Canales at artcan@newmexico.com or (505) 986-8484.

 

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Veterans’ Stories to be Recorded and Submitted for

National Veterans’ History Project

Day, month date (time)

city/venue

address

(BELEN, NM)—Veterans regardless of era served or combat/non-combat status are invited to share their experience serving our country with interviewers who will be videotaping responses for submittal to the National Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. Family members or non-veterans who have supported service members are also invited to share their experience.

The event takes place at 10am on March 8 at Noblin Funeral Service in Belen, located at 418 West Reinken Avenue. Participants are also encouraged to bring photographs, mementos and other memorabilia for supporting documentation.

New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Timothy Hale is scheduled to deliver the opening remarks. Students from the University of New Mexico’s VC Digital Media and History Departments have also been invited to attend.

The project was launched with the goal of preserving the stories and honoring the sacrifice by those who have served country-- or those who have supported our men and women of the military. Veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are especially encouraged to attend and share their experiences. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), our nation’s older veterans are passing away at the rate of nearly one thousand a day (according to the VA, 600 WWII veterans alone are dying every day). With these deaths, all too often their memories and stories die along with them.

Interviewers with video cameras will record the stories told by veterans for submission to the Veterans History Project. Once submitted, these stories will be archived at the National Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for passing down to future generations.

In addition to sharing their stories, all veterans will receive a copy of their recorded story, courtesy of Noblin Funeral Services and the UNM VC Digital Media Department.

For more information, contact Noblin Funeral Service at (505) 864-4448.

 

Ray Seva

Public Information Officer,

New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services

(505) 362-6089 cell

www.dvs.state.nm.us 

Bataan Memorial Building

407 Galisteo Street

Room 132

Santa Fe, NM 87504-2324

 

 

 

 

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http://westmorelandtimes.com/news/11509/10/mias-how-you-can-help-find-them/

MIAs – How you can help find them Posted on March 10, 2014 by WT Leave a comment

There are 45,000 service members missing in action from World War II and other wars who experts say are recoverable. But the Pentagon’s $100 million per year effort to identify them has solved surprisingly few cases 2013 60 MIAs were sent home last year.

The military actually knows where many of the missing are: 9,400 service members are buried as “unknowns” in American cemeteries around the world. Armed with family stories and documents, John Eakin may have tracked down the remains of one of those men, Bud Kelder, a cousin who died in a World War II POW camp.

Here, in an edited interview, Eakin shares what he’s learned about researching a loved one “missing in action,” and fighting against the Pentagon.

What if someone doesn’t know much about their relative’s death?

That was the case with me in the beginning. In 2009, I didn’t set out to recover the remains of my cousin. I was simply looking for genealogical information on the date and place of his death. About all that I knew about him was that he had been in the Bataan Death March and his remains were never returned to his family for burial. Growing up, it was one of those things that I was told never to ask about because it upset my grandparents.

A good starting point is the MIA database on the website of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).

What’s next for more information? Can a family member get any files about their missing loved one?

The first thing any family member should do is request the Individual Deceased Personnel File for their family member. The IDPF is the key document in any MIA research. These files were classified and restricted from public access for many years, but are available now.

An IDPF contains all that is known about a serviceman’s death and efforts to identify his remains. It typically includes death certificates, notifications of death, disposition of personnel property, information on burial, and often ends with the paperwork involved in providing a veterans headstone. The IDPF will often direct further investigation. It took over three months for the Army to retrieve Bud’s IDPF from the archives, but it was worth the wait as it was the key to the whole case.

Bud’s IDPF also contained several letters from Bud’s parents to the Army asking that his remains be returned for burial. Their grief at not being able to bury their son was almost palpable.

Family members can obtain the IDPF from the appropriate Service Casualty Office. (It is important to know that the Air Force didn’t come in to being until 1947 and missing personnel from the old Army Air Corps are handled by the Army Casualty Office.)

U.S. Army (and the Air Corps) Department of the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center 1600 Spearhead Div Ave, Dept 450 Fort Knox, KY 40122-5405

Tel:1 (800) 892-2490 Website

U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs (MRC) Personal and Family Readiness Division 3280 Russell Road Quantico, VA 22134-5103

Tel:1 (800) 847-1597 Website

U.S. Navy Navy Personnel Command Casualty Assistance Division (OPNAV N135C) 5720 Integrity Drive Millington, TN 38055-6210

Tel:1 (800) 443-9298 Website

Bud’s file showed that the Army tried over a period of years to identify him, but he was eventually determined “non-recoverable,” as was the case for thousands of men. What happened to the remains the military found after the war but couldn’t identify?

In most cases, unidentified remains were buried as unknowns either in a Department of Veteran Affairs or American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery. The unidentified remains each have an IDPF, which is identified with an “X” and a number, rather than a name. So they are often referred to as “X-files.”

So could someone tell from the IDPF file that their loved one’s remains were recovered but just not identified? In other words, that their loved one is an X-file?

IDPFs on people whose remains were determined to be non-recoverable, like Bud, often contain references to one or more X-files that are associated with that person, but could not be positively identified as that person. By the same token, X-files often list the names of one or more persons they are associated with.

So in the case of Bud Kelder, we started with his IDPF which referenced ten unidentified remains which had been given the numbers X812, X814, X815, X816, X818, X820, X821, X822, X823, X824. The Army knew that Bud was one of these unidentified remains, they just didn’t know which one. But we knew that Bud had gold dental inlays, and when we reviewed the dental charts in the X-files only X816 had gold inlays.

How does someone get X-files and what can they expect from them?

If the IDPF references X-files, they may be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request or by asking the appropriate service casualty office. Family members should look for military unit historical associations or groups of other family members of persons who died in the same area. Often these groups will have databases of all the X-files associated with the same event or area.

In some cases, X-files contain little to no identifying information 2013 no place of death, no dental chart, not much of anything which will help to identify the remains.

However, about fifty percent of the thousands of X-files I have been through have an associated name or names. In most of these cases the military had a pretty good idea who it was, but lacked that last little bit of evidence needed to be sure. Most of the rest have some other piece of information that will help narrow down the possible identities.

The X-file will usually show where the remains were buried.

Anything else that’s important for a family member to do?

I sincerely hope that every WWII MIA family will contact the appropriate service casualty office and assist them in finding the appropriate family members to collect a DNA reference sample from. DNA has become essential to the identification process and depends on the cooperation of every WWII MIA family.

Collection of the DNA sample is a simple process. The military will overnight a collection kit consisting of a few cheek swabs and a return envelope. Blood samples are no longer used.

There are more than 950 men like Bud who died in the Cabanatuan POW camp and weren’t identified after WWII. They are buried as X-files in the cemetery in Manila. Unlike some of the other X-files that contain limited identifying information, the Cabanatuan X-files make up a known population of men: The POWs kept list of all those who died in the camp. So the military knows who all the 953 X-files could possibly be, they just haven’t matched each name with a body.

One key obstacle, as we detailed in our story, is the Pentagon itself, which is rarely winning to disinter a grave to try to send that man home to his family.

But another needed step is getting family DNA families to cross reference with any remains.

Although the Army has about 10,000 DNA samples already from WWII MIA families, it doesn’t categorize them into smaller sections, such as by theater or battle. Eakin, though, has done this for Cabanatuan. He combed through the Army’s records and found that they have family DNA samples from family members of approximately 345 of the Cabanatuan unknowns. About 608 are left in need of DNA.

If you have a family member who died at the Cabanatuan POW camp and wasn’t sent home for burial, then a sample of your DNA could be helpful in getting your loved one identified. Giving DNA is easy and painless. All you have to do is rub the inside of your cheek with a cotton swab. The military will send you a kit.

Here are the names of the 608 men without any family DNA samples on file with the Army.

Contact the Army Casualty Office for more information if your family member is on the list.

Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center Tel:1 (800) 892-2490 Website

Any other resources people should know about? JPAC BataanMissing.com  Ancestry.com  military records NARA POW database

by Megan McCloskey, ProPublica

Click here to join the conversation on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Westmoreland-Times/578216415573383

 

 

 

 

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http://www.scnow.com/news/article_6a3a348c-ac9f-11e3-b08c-0017a43b2370.html

POW Flag raised at Florence County Complex

 

VEASEY CONWAY

 

POW Flag Raising

 

Riley Propps, 91, displays his Non Commissioned Officers Association medal at a POW flag raising ceremony on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Florence County Complex. Propps, a World War II veteran, served in North Africa and Europe in the 2nd Armored Division, which was commanded by General George S. Patton, Jr. Propps currently is a courtroom bailiff.

Buy this photo VEASEY CONWAY POW Flag Raising A POW flag was raised on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Florence County Complex.

Buy this photo VEASEY CONWAY POW Flag Raising A POW flag was raised on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Florence County Complex.

Buy this photo .. Posted: Saturday, March 15, 2014 8:10 pm

POW Flag raised at Florence County Complex Veasey Conway Morning News

Posted on Mar 15, 2014 by Veasey Conway A group of Rolling Thunder riders, veterans and members of the community gathered at noon on Saturday, March 15, outside the Florence County Complex to raise the POW flag.

The Prisoner of War pledge of allegiance was recited by Rolling Thunder riders -- their group seeks to bring recognition and accountability for prisoners of war and those missing in action.

In attendance was Riley Propps, 91, a World War II veteran who served in North Africa and Europe in the 2nd Armored Division. He currently is a courtroom bailiff.

 

 

 

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http://www.chattanoogan.com/2014/3/13/271706/Clarksville-Soldier-To-Be-Buried-At.aspx

Clarksville Soldier To Be Buried At Arlington National Cemetery After Being MIA For 50 Years

 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

 

Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods of Clarksville. SSG Woods was among eight service members killed in a plane crash on October 24, 1964 and the first Tennessean to be declared missing in action (MIA) leading up to the Vietnam War.

SSG Woods was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group based out of Fort Campbell. The United States Army staff sergeant was aboard a C-123 Provider aircraft that crashed when it was struck by enemy fire while resupplying the U.S. Special Forces camp at Bu Prang, Vietnam. Shortly after the crash, U.S. Forces were able to recover the remains of Air Force service members Captain Valmore W. Bourque, First Lieutenant Edward J. Krukowiski, First Lieutenant Robert G. Armstrong, Staff Sergeant Ernest J. Halvorson, Staff Sergeant Theodore B. Phillips, Airman First Class Eugene Richardson and Army Private First Class Charles P. Sparks. However, search and recovery crews were not able to find SSG Woods’ body.

Teams from the United States, Cambodia and Vietnam conducted a series of coordinated searches from 1997 to 2010 and excavated the wreckage and recovered SSG Woods’ remains. Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used forensic and circumstantial evidence to account for SSG Woods. “The State of Tennessee pauses to recognize and remember the ultimate sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Woods, and we hope the upcoming ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery offers the Woods family some peace and solace after these many years,” Governor Haslam said. “It is bittersweet to welcome Staff Sergeant Woods home to American soil as a hero who served with courage and valor,” Commissioner Grinder said. “We are grateful his family has finally received the closure of this news and the ability to bury their loved one.” SSG Woods and his wife Francis L. Woods were raising their three children in Clarksville at the time of his deployment. SSG Woods was 39 years old at the time of the crash. Lisa Szymanski was only 13 years old when her father was declared missing. “He was a really good dad with a beautiful sense of humor and I remember he was always helping people,” Ms. Szymanksi said. “The memories are flooding back as we prepare for this time of closure.” SSG Woods is survived by his daughter, Lisa C. Szymanski of Fort Myers, Fl., son, Steven R. Woods of Clarksville, daughter, Deborah A. Secriskey of Hermitage, Tn., sister, Rozzellar Biniecki of Hammond, In., sister, Betty Jewel Tucker of Highland, In., sister, Ophelia Willoughby of Huntsville, Al., and brother, William Woods of Dyer, In., as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Governor Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, March 21 in honor of Staff Sergeant Woods’ ultimate sacrifice. SSG Woods will be buried during a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. on March 21

 

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http://www.wsmv.com/story/24981335/statewide-day-of-mourning-to-be-held-for-vietnam-soldier

Statewide day of mourning to be held for Vietnam soldier

 

 Mar 14, 2014 10:37 PM EDT Reported by Forrest Sanders

 

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice nearly 50 years ago will finally be laid to rest and honored by the state of Tennessee next week.

MORE

Click to read more headlines from Davidson County.More >> Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods was the first Tennessean to be declared missing in action leading up to the Vietnam War. With his remains discovered last year and a day of mourning approaching, a family is finally feeling their closure.

"When our governor takes that one special day to honor my dad that made me so proud," said Woods' son, Steve Woods. "I know now my dad will get the honor and respect he deserves throughout the state."

Steve Woods was only 8 years old and Deborah Secriskey was only 3 when their father left to serve in the Vietnam War. The year was 1964 when Woods' plane was shot down by enemy fire over Cambodia. His body was not recovered.

"We always held onto hope that he'd come back," said Secriskey. "The years went by, and we just never heard anything."

One day last September, the proud children of a proud soldier said a miracle happened. The family was contacted by the Joint Prisoners of War Missing In Action Accounting Command, a group still doing searches for men and women MIA from past wars. Lawrence Woods' remains were found in a previously undiscovered part of the plane.

"It was like, it wasn't real," said Secriskey. "After all these years, how could they possibly have found something?"

Now, nearly 50 years after Lawrence Woods went missing, Gov. Bill Haslam has announced flags will be lowered to half-staff across the state Friday in remembrance of a man who loved his uniform and his country. It's the same day his children will lay their father to rest at Arlington National Cemetary.

"I would love one day, Mr. Governor, to meet you and shake your hand, buddy," said Steve Woods. "Thank you for what you have done."

Having waited so long to close this final chapter in his father's life, Steve Woods said he now just wants to see that closure come to families of other MIA soldiers, the 1,600 still missing from the Vietnam War, the 7,000 from the Korean War, the 100 from the Cold War, and the 73,000 from World War II.

"Never, never give up," said Steve Woods. "Put it in the Lord's hands and one day, the Lord will answer your prayers."

 

 

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http://www.elpasotimes.com/entertainment/ci_25351972/pows-remembered-documentary-presented-by-jan-thompson-loretta

Documentary about WWII prisoners of war to be screened, with guest stars, in Las Cruces

 

By S. Derrickson Moore / Las Cruces Sun-News Posted: 03/15/2014 04:29:50 PM MDT

 

The Japanese "Hell Ships" during World War II are described by American POWs in "Never the Same" as among the worst ordeals of their long imprisonment. Screenings of the documentary will be Friday through March 24 at the Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces. (Courtesy photos)Click photo to enlargeNarrator Loretta Swit. «12»LAS CRUCES >> Two Emmy Award winners — filmmaker Jan Thompson and actress Loretta Swit (of "M*A*S*H" fame) — will be in Las Cruces this week to present screenings of Thompson's documentary "Never The Same: The Prisoner of War Experience" at the Rio Grande Theatre.

The film is narrated by Swit and features the voices of Alec Baldwin, Ed Asner, Jamie Farr, Mike Farrell, Robert Loggia, Kathleen Turner, Robert Wagner, Christopher Franciosa, Christopher Murray and Sam Waterston.

Thompson was inspired by the experiences, journals and artifacts of U.S. servicemen held as POWs by the Japanese during World War II. She said she worked to convey their use of "ingenuity, creativity and humor to survive one of the most notorious times in history."

It's particularly appropriate to show the film at the same time as an annual event that honors soldiers who were involved in the Bataan Death March, said Thompson, whose late father, Robert Thompson, was a prisoner of war after his capture on Corregidor.

"The film tells a story we all should know," said Jerry Schurtz of Las Cruces, whose father and uncle, Deming natives, were both on the Bataan Death March.

His father, Paul W. Schurtz, died. His uncle, Gerald B. Freeman, survived and became a surrogate father to Jerry and his siblings.

"It's a really outstanding documentary, based on the experiences of Jan's dad and other guys who were prisoners of war and slave laborers in Japan, and it also talks about their travel in what they called the Hell Ships, two of which were sunk en route to Japan," said Jerry Schurtz, who thinks the film is especially significant "for those of us who are POW kids. Almost everybody knows something about Bataan, but they don't know about the other 3½ years when these men were starving and brutalized at the whims of the Japanese. They don't realize a lot of these men watched the Nagasaki (atomic) bomb from a distance in unmarked hospital ships and prison ships."

Swit, Thompson and Schurtz all expressed concerns that the returning World War II POWs have never really had a chance to come to terms with their experiences.

"These guys were told to 'suck it up'; (post-traumatic stress disorder) did not exist as a problem. For us POW kids ... it steels you for the bad things, because you grow up knowing things are not all peachy-keen and rosy," Schurtz said.

Swit, who narrates "Never the Same," has a similar take on the film and the messages it conveys.

"It changed my life. It releases you from worry and anxiety. Nothing like that is ever going to happen to you. You give up all rights to complain about anything that will happen to you, and that is liberating," Swit said in a March 6 interview from her home in New York.

"These were soldiers that were slaves, stripped of rank and humanity, who helped themselves and each other quietly in so many ways. They were living through death,"

The film is ultimately moving, uplifting and sometimes even humorous, Swit said.

"The story is so grim that I told (Swit) that 'I need you to be Mother Earth, I need you hold their hand and get them through,' " Thompson said from her home in Chicago. "There are a lot of light moments, a lot of crazy, wonderful things and people should know it's OK to laugh.

"I worked on this project for more than 20 years. It was a challenge to find a way to tell this story. There was very little documentary film available, but we had diaries and five of the 25 guys were still alive. We had artifacts and that was like a treasure trove. We had 140 drawings and cartoons done by POWs. I animated some of them.

"And people were so much help. I knew Alec Baldwin, who agreed to help. Then I met Loretta through what we call a 'descendant,' a kid of a POW, and she started making calls. Because of her reputation and her friendships, we have the cast of a lifetime," said Thompson, currently a professor of radio and television at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Thompson, who has won three Emmy Awards for documentary projects, is a writer, director, editor and composer who once was studio director for the Chicago Bulls and White Sox. She is the creator of "Hidden Journeys," a series of prime-time PBS specials on food and cultures around the world.

The film features Thompson's original compositions, including a piece call "Loretta's Theme," written, Thompson said, "for her kindness and support. I think music is so important to a subject like this. When a audience is learning about something ugly, they're hearing something that isn't ugly."

The documentary premiered April 9, 2013, "on the anniversary of the Bataan Death March and National POW Recognition Day," Thompson said. She has been touring the country to present screenings, most recently at Carlsbad.

Her father, who died in 2012, didn't live to see the finished documentary, but Thompson hopes she has helped him leave a legacy that will resonate with future generations.

"We're operating on a shoestring, but we're hoping to find a way to bring veterans to these performances and get together the resources to honor former POWs at receptions," Thompson said.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

What: Screenings of the documentary "Never The Same."

Who: Appearances by filmmaker Jan Thompson and narrator (and "M*A*S*H" actress) Loretta Swit.

When: 7 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. March 24.

Where: Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main in Las Cruces.

How much: $12.

Information: 575-523-6403, riogrande theatre.com.

 

 

 

 

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http://hamptonroads.com/2014/03/after-agency-failed-he-fights-bring-mia-cousin-home

After agency failed, he fights to bring MIA cousin home

 

Of the approximately 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, around 45,000 are considered recoverable. But for the 35,000 MIAs from World War II, time may be running out, as close relatives die, losing chances for DNA testing. J-PAC, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, says it does not expect to meet a 2010 congressional mandate to identify 200 remains per year by 2015.

© March 16, 2014 By Megan McCloskey

 

ProPublica

Tracing his genealogy online one night, John Eakin landed on a name that evoked an old family sorrow.

Arthur "Bud" Kelder, Eakin's cousin, had died while a POW during World War II, but his body had never been found. Bud's parents had sent handwritten letters to the Army for years, asking to have their youngest son's body returned to them in Illinois.

"It is our hope that his remains may be sent here, for burial at home," one pleaded.

Six decades later, Eakin, a Texan who was himself a vet, resolved to find out exactly why Kelder had never come home.

In the fall of 2009, Eakin reached out to family members and found that Kelder's older brother had kept a trove of historical documents laying out Kelder's saga: the telegram announcing he was a POW, newspaper clippings, letters sent between Kelder and his parents.

After war broke out in December 1941, Kelder was among 12,000 American troops besieged by the Japanese for four months on the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines, just south of Manila.

"What I dream is there will be no more separations between us again and we'll spend more time together," he wrote to his parents in cursive two months later. "P.S. Mother! Don't worry about me."

The Americans surrendered on April 9, 1942. The Japanese made Kelder a driver during the infamous five-day, 65-mile Bataan Death March. He ended up at Cabanatuan, one of the largest POW camps for American troops.

When Eakin tried to figure out what happened next, he ran into an unexpected roadblock.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million a year to find men like Kelder, following the ethos of "leave no man behind." Yet it solves surprisingly few cases, hobbled by overlapping bureaucracy and a refusal to seize the full potential of modern forensic science. Last year, the military identified 60 service members out of the approximately 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, around 45,000 of whom are considered recoverable.

At the center of the military's effort is a little-known agency, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, and its longtime scientific director, Tom Holland. He alone assesses whether the evidence J-PAC has assembled is sufficient to identify a set of remains: A body goes home only if he signs off.

During Holland's 19-year tenure, J-PAC has stuck with an outdated approach that relies primarily on historical and medical records, even as others in the field have turned to DNA to quickly and reliably make identifications.

Though finding missing service members can be difficult - some were lost deep in Europe's forests, others in Southeast Asia's jungles - Holland's approach has stymied efforts to identify MIAs even when the military knows where they are. More than 9,400 service members are buried as "unknowns" in American cemeteries around the world. Holland's lab has rejected roughly 9 out of every 10 requests to exhume such graves.

Holland's cautious approach is animated by a fear of mistakes.

"Our credibility is only as good as our last misidentification," he said. "It doesn't matter that I've identified 500 people correctly. If I misidentify one, that's what's going to be the focus. That's what's going to be on the news. That is what is going to erode the credibility. That's what I go home with every night."

In recent years, J-PAC and the other agencies responsible for the MIA program have come under intensifying scrutiny. In 2010, when Congress added World War II to J-PAC's mission, it mandated at least 200 identifications per year by 2015 - a benchmark the agency has already said it will not meet. The problems, including those of DNA, go beyond J-PAC. Last month, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how the military manages the effort.

Time is running out. There are 35,000 World War II MIAs who experts say are findable. But the MIAs' closest relatives are dying off - and so are the chances for using DNA to identify their long-lost loved ones.

Working from a home he built by hand in Helotes, Texas, just north of San Antonio, the gray-haired, lanky Eakin began his search by requesting Kelder's records from the Army.

He got back a remarkable document. Despite horrid conditions, the American prisoners had left a road map to find Kelder and others like him: the "Cabanatuan POW Camp Death Report."

Barely surviving on a little more than two cups of rice every day, the POWs had managed to document the deaths of their comrades. Of the several thousand prisoners housed at the camp, about 500 made it out.

Each day, the survivors dug a single unmarked grave to bury that day's dead. And each day, the officers kept a meticulous ledger of the men who had died. However little that death roster meant in the prison camp, later, the POWs knew, it would be crucial to getting the fallen home.

The entry for Nov. 19, 1942, lists 14 men. Among them: Private Arthur "Bud" H. Kelder, dead at 4:35 p.m. The 26-year-old had succumbed to pellagra, a vitamin deficiency common among the starved prisoners.

Kelder's 34-page file had sat untouched by the government for nearly 60 years, a forgotten folder in a vast repository at the National Archives. Had anyone looked it over, they would have found what Eakin did: The military actually had a pretty good sense of where Kelder was.

The files included not only a date for Kelder's death but also a specific grave for him. After the war, the Army had gone to the POW camp to dig up and identify the bodies of more than 2,700 men who died there. Using the Cabanatuan camp report and recollections of the survivors, the Army numbered the communal graves and matched them with the death list. Kelder and 13 others had been in Grave 717.

Limited by the science of the time, the Army was able to identify and send home four men from that grave but not Kelder. In the early 1950s, the remaining 10, along with more than 900 others who died at Cabanatuan, were reburied individually as unknowns in an American cemetery in Manila. White crosses marked their graves, bearing the words "Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade In Arms Known but to God."

To Eakin, it seemed obvious that Kelder was among the 10 unidentified sets of remains from Grave 717 - a relatively small group of bones that the military could dig up and test against the DNA of family members. He tried to make it easier for the Pentagon by tracking down relatives of the men in the grave so they could provide DNA for comparison. He even turned over an envelope Kelder had licked.

Reviewing details of the case later, Joshua Hyman, the head of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's DNA Sequencing Facility, described it as a "piece of cake."

But no one in the military seemed to show much interest. Every month, Eakin called the Army, asking, "When are you going to go dig up these remains?"

Kelder's fate rested with Holland and J-PAC's lab on a joint Navy-Air Force base in Honolulu.

Holland joined J-PAC in 1992 and has spent his entire scientific career there, becoming the lab's director in 1995. "The lab has been his life," said Mark Leney, a former J-PAC anthropologist who worked with Holland for six years. "He has an enormous sense of ownership of it."

Though J-PAC is a military command, the generals who rotate in and out for temporary assignments take no role in the scientific decisions, leaving them to Holland. Almost a dozen current and former staff members described Holland as someone who bridles at being challenged and fiercely protects his fiefdom.

"Expressing dissent was clearly not appreciated and frowned on," said Leney, who now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Leney said he and another anthropologist wrote Holland a memo in 2002 about problems with procedures and standards at the lab. They asked for guidance and clarification. "Here is my guidance: Don't ever write a memo like this again unless it is stapled to your resignation," Holland wrote back.

Under Holland's direction, J-PAC's lab hasn't prioritized DNA analysis, despite its being an advancement that has revolutionized forensic science. J-PAC's method begins with historians sifting through archival material to narrow down who someone might be.

Then they compare bones to dental charts and other medical records. Combining that with archaeological analysis and artifacts, they try to winnow the list to one person. DNA comes in last, only as a confirmation tool.

Scientists engaged in similar work elsewhere do the opposite. They start with DNA and let it drive the process, taking samples from bones they dig up and cross-referencing them against databases of DNA from the families of the missing to find a match.

Eakin first heard of Kelder as a teenager, when, looking at framed photographs on the wall, he asked about a black-and-white photo of a young man he didn't recognize.

"That's Bud," his grandfather told him in a quiet voice.

"That was the only time I saw my grandpa cry," Eakin recalled.

In the spring of 2010, Eakin had two breakthroughs.

He tracked down an audio tape recorded by Kelder's older brother in 1994, shortly before he died.

"I got out of dental school in 1935," Herman Kelder said on the tape. As he started to build his practice, he had worked on his brother and "put some gold inlays in his mouth where he had some silver fillings."

Distinctive dental work like that could help identify Bud Kelder among the 10 unknowns from Grave 717, Eakin realized. Perhaps the military had noted in its files whether any of the bodies had gold inlays.

A week after making the discovery, Eakin attended a meeting hosted by the Defense Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel Office, or DPMO, another Pentagon agency whose mission overlaps with J-PAC's. The meeting's purpose was to update family members on the search for their loved ones, but officials told Eakin that even aided by his new information, Kelder was unlikely ever to be identified.

Not long after that, Eakin received a package in the mail from a sympathetic source inside the Pentagon: It contained what the government calls X-files for the 10 unknowns buried in Grave 717.

When the military couldn't identify a set of remains in the years after World War II, it put all the documentation it had assembled - where the body was found, skeletal details and dental charts - into a file assigned an X-number to stand in for a name. There are about 8,500 X-files from World War II.

Eakin went through the X-files for the bodies in Grave 717. Only one - X-816 - had gold inlays.

Eakin was ecstatic that the clues led so directly to his cousin. Kelder was seemingly buried in grave A-12-195 in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Eakin went back to the Army that April, thinking, "We'll have him home in a week."

By September, the only progress the government had made was to produce a research memo on Kelder's case. Heather Harris, a DPMO historian, concluded that the archival evidence - mainly the death report ledger that the POWs had kept at Cabanatuan - was unreliable and therefore insufficient to warrant disinterment. She also noted another complication: Some of the remains appeared to have been commingled when they were first disinterred in the 1940s. It was possible that identifications made then had been wrong.

On Sept. 21, a J-PAC dentist compared the dental records in the Grave 717 X-files with other dental records for the 10 men buried in that grave. He couldn't conclusively match any of them. There's no indication in the report that Herman Kelder's taped statement about his brother's gold inlays was part of the analysis.

Increasingly frustrated by the military's inaction, Eakin broadened his efforts beyond Bud Kelder. After a drawn-out battle with the Department of Defense, Eakin obtained access to all World War II and Korea X-files, more than 9,400 of them. Then he built a database with material from 3,000 files for unknowns buried with Kelder in the American cemetery in Manila, methodically entering information for weeks in the evenings.

He discovered that in the 1940s, the military had made tentative identifications for more than half of those X-files, tying each set of remains to a few service members or, in some cases, just one. Many of the cases seemed as solvable as Kelder's. In one instance, Eakin concluded, a Silver Star recipient had never been identified because his name was spelled wrong.

Eakin didn't understand why the military didn't just exhume the men who had been buried in Grave 717.

While some oppose focusing on disinterments, arguing that those men have already been found, the Pentagon began encouraging J-PAC to exhume more unknowns 15 years ago, based on the emerging promise of DNA. J-PAC has done 111 disinterments since then. Half were exhumed in the past two years, in part a response to the mounting pressure to make more identifications.

J-PAC recently set a goal to dig up 150 sets of remains per year by 2018. Even at that pace, the agency would need until about 2081 to get the 9,400 unknown World War II and Korea service members out of the ground.

Holland approves a handful of the disinterment requests that come across his desk. Cases go first to the head of the disinterment unit, who dismisses about 80 percent of them, Holland said. The rest go to Holland, who said he rejects another 80 percent. That means only 4 percent of cases considered for disinterment move forward.

Holland has imposed strict parameters for how many people a set of remains could be before moving forward to dig them up: typically, no more than five. He will not lower the threshold even if comparison DNA could be used to identify remains.

In 2003, J-PAC dug up remains of unidentified sailors who had been on the battleship Oklahoma when it sank in Pearl Harbor. Agency officials had failed to investigate the historical archives adequately and exhumed a container with bones from hundreds of people instead of the five they were expecting.

After this, the Pentagon halted further Oklahoma cases and required additional layers of bureaucratic approval for disinterments, but as a practical matter, Holland still makes the calls.

He acknowledged that what he called the Pentagon's "knee-jerk" reaction to the Oklahoma mess left him reluctant to push for disinterments for fear of losing more autonomy. He expressed concern about having bodies that J-PAC can't identify stack up in his lab.

In January 2011, Eakin's persistence finally seemed to spur some progress.

J-PAC anthropologist Paul Emanovsky examined the cases of the 14 men who had been buried in Grave 717 in Cabanatuan, including Kelder's, and concluded that identifications were possible.

"I think it's worth pursuing these cases," Emanovsky wrote.

Holland was not persuaded. Despite the reports from members of the agency's staff supporting disinterment, Eakin was told in February 2012 that there was no evidence to support further investigation into Kelder's case.

Eakin had enough. On Oct. 18, 2012, he sued the Department of Defense, naming the secretary of defense, J-PAC Deputy to the Commander Johnie Webb and the head of the DPMO, in U.S. District Court in Texas to force them to disinter Kelder and the other World War II unknowns.

The lawsuit has survived several government motions to dismiss.

Citing the suit, J-PAC and the DPMO declined to comment on any specifics of Kelder's case.

Eakin said he is convinced that J-PAC's "job is justifying doing nothing - and they do their job well."

It's unclear whether the law will come down on Eakin's side, but there's reason to believe the judge is sympathetic.

"Notwithstanding giving his last full measure of devotion to this country," U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote, "Private Kelder's government declines, on technical legal reasons as opposed to spirit of the law, to give him a decent burial in a marked grave alongside others who died in service to the United States."

The Kelders want to put their long-lost relative in the family crypt in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago where he grew up. That's where Kelder's parents, who so badly wanted to bring their boy home, are interred.

"All this isn't about just digging up a bunch of old bones. This is about giving a family closure," Eakin said. "These men gave their all, and we can at least give them their names on their headstone."

 

 

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http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/03/11/3522250/the-last-mission-bringing-mias.html

The last mission: Bringing MIAs homeThe News TribuneMarch 11, 2014

 

Recent Headlines US Senate finance reports: Why file on paper? Senate campaign finance reports: A curious lethargy Law school at UWT vital to region’s economic future Community Conversation on faith and science: We all have some faith Community Conversation on faith and science: Sharing each journey Welcome home, Capt. Ferguson. And rest in peace. Douglas David Ferguson of Tacoma — lost for 44 years after his fighter-bomber went down in Vietnam — will soon receive a memorial service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. His remains will be buried in Tacoma near the graves of his parents.

His return is a testament to an American obsession that most of the rest of the world probably sees as a little crazy.

Wars have catastrophic consequences, including all the anguish summed up in the words, “missing in action.” Pilots crash on remote mountainsides; sailors vanish into the sea; Marines and soldiers disappear in jungles and forests; high explosives leave bodies in fragments. The fog of war is never entirely dispelled, and the fate of some can never be known.

Yet the MIA label leaves parents, spouses and other survivors aching and wondering. Some cling to a tortured hope that the loved one might someday show up at the door again. With that hope comes a fear that the missing still suffers under unimaginable conditions.

To their credit, the armed forces are loathe to leave their fallen behind. Seventy years after World War II, Defense Department search teams are still turning up the remains of MIAs from that conflict. The department’s Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command sometimes even recovers the remains of World War I doughboys.

The overwhelming emphasis in recent decades has been on Vietnam MIAs, in part because of rumors — sometimes perpetuated by cruel scams — that American prisoners of war were never released from camps in Indochina after the end of the war.

The Defense Department has been aggressive in trying to determine the fate of MIAs; since the 1990s, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have also provided substantial help. Relying on field archaeology, witness interviews, archives research and forensics, the military has identified more than 900 MIAs from the Vietnam War and has returned their remains to their families. Another 1,600-plus remain missing, but 600 or so are listed as confirmed dead but unrecoverable, often because they were lost at sea.

The attempt to determine the fate of every last one reflects a healthy belief in the individual dignity of men and women in uniform.

The effort is also a debt owed to survivors.

Douglas Ferguson’s sister, Sue Scott, has been active in working for the repatriation of MIAs since his disappearance in 1969. When she was informed that her brother’s remains had been identified, she said, “I had a real sense of peace.”

That may be a bittersweet ending, but in this kind of tragedy, it’s infinitely better than no ending at all.

 

 

 

 

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Secretary Hagel turns up heat about U.S. POW
Posted on February 26, 2014

 Thank you to everyone that wrote letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking that he do what it takes to bring Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl home alive. If you have not written your letter, do so now. You could help save a live American POW.

Danny "Greasy" Belcher
Task Force Omega of KY Inc, Executive Director
D Troop,7th Sqdn,1st Air Cav.
Infantry Sgt. 68-69

http://mobile.politico.com/story.cfm?id=104001&cat=topnews

Hagel turns up heat about U.S. POW By Austin Wright | 2/26/14 @ 4:31 PM EST

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has put one of his top deputies in charge of the Pentagon’s efforts to secure the release of a U.S. soldier captured in 2009 by insurgents in Afghanistan, according to a congressional aide.

The decision comes amid criticisms on Capitol Hill and inside the Defense Department of the military’s efforts to bring home Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant from Idaho believed to be held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network, likely in Pakistan.

“The No. 1 issue that’s kept Bergdahl from coming home is a lack of cohesion to the effort,” said one Defense Department official involved in the Pentagon’s broader Bergdahl policies.

Now, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, a former Navy SEAL, will oversee the Pentagon’s Bergdahl efforts, the congressional aide told POLITICO. The aide, whose boss was informed of the decision, and the Defense Department official both discussed the sensitive issue on the condition of not being identified.

Lumpkin’s assignment comes as he works more broadly to revamp the department’s troubled efforts to account for all missing personnel — the more than 83,000 Americans lost in conflicts dating to World War II.

“Secretary Hagel believes strongly that we should continue to do everything we can to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home safely,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in an email. “His focus on achieving that goal has never wavered.

“He wants his leadership team, both uniformed and civilian, likewise engaged and involved,” Kirby continued. “Mr. Lumpkin, both as the acting undersecretary of defense for policy and the assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, continues to play a leading role in this effort.”

Last week, Rep. Duncan Hunter sent two letters to Hagel urging him to work with the State Department to appoint “one single individual” to be “tasked with managing the Bergdahl situation.”

The California Republican, who was a combat Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan and now sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said that while he’s aware U.S. Central Command was in “direct control” of the issue, “I am concerned by the lack of cohesiveness and interagency coordination overall.

“It is absolutely critical that efforts to free Bergdahl are not overcome by bureaucracy,” Hunter wrote, listing a number of organizations involved in the issue: the Defense Department, the State Department, Central Command, the Special Operations Command, the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, among others.

At the White House, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Wednesday that the effort was “led by the Defense Department” but that “leadership from every relevant agency remain involved and engaged.”

“Sgt. Bergdahl’s situation is closely followed at the highest levels of the White House and remains among the top priorities of our interagency team,” she said.

The Defense Department official critical of the organizational structure within the military dealing with the Bergdahl situation said, “There ought to be a multi-organization task force set up to deal with this.”

“For four f——— years this kid has been gone, and the efforts to get him back have been so haphazard that it’s deplorable,” the official said. “We need to put someone with sufficient political clout in charge to resolve this.”

Earlier this week, CNN and other news outlets reported the Taliban had suspended talks with the United States to swap Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A Taliban spokesman said the talks were called off “due to the current complex political situation in the country,” according to CNN.

For the United States, the looming drawdown — and possible full withdrawal — of forces in Afghanistan by year’s end is increasing the urgency of the Bergdahl efforts.

“We have said that we can’t discuss all the details of our efforts to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said last week. “But there should be no doubt that we work every single day using our military, our intelligence and our diplomatic tools to try to see him returned home safely.”

 

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Will Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl become collateral damage in this operation? If you think the US will not exterminate live American POWS or support it you need to read Spite House by Lt. Col. (ret) Tom McKenney and Monica Jensen Stevenson. Col. McKenney was a Korea and Vietnam Marine veteran. He was in the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. Three retired Marine Generals have said that the Marines were indeed in the Phoenix Program. Read Spite House for all of the information.

Click on the link below to see what may happen in Pakistan where POW Bergdahl is held by the Haqqani network

 

http://m.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pakistan-plans-military-operation-in-north-waziristan-targeting-extremist-groups/2014/02/25/b37cc58e-9d9e-11e3-b8d8-94577ff66b28_story.html?tid=HP_lede 

 

 

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http://www.wiscnews.com/news/local/article_6b6519bf-7b88-5f01-a559-94db07cf8ecb.html

Open house March 29 in Portage for Vietnam Veterans Day 6 Saved Save ArticleMy Saved Items Print Email 2014-03-05T13:33:00Z Open house March 29 in Portage for Vietnam Veterans DayJen McCoy Daily Register Wiscnews.com March 05, 2014 1:33 pm • Jen McCoy Daily Register(0) Comments× Related Photos« Buy Now » Buy Nowveterans of vietnamJen McCoy, Daily Register Local veterans who planned the second annual Vietnam Veterans Day event include Tom Schneller, front, and counterclockwise, Dennis Benson, Chris Schutz and Dave DuVall. The group posed Tuesday in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1707 hall in Portage.

Local veterans who planned the second annual Vietnam Veterans Day event include Tom Schneller, front, and counterclockwise, Dennis Benson, Chris Schutz and Dave DuVall. The group posed Tuesday in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1707 hall in Portage.

Enlarge PhotoWhen young soldiers returned from Vietnam, no one wanted to hear what physical and mental battles they fought, not even their parents.

“I said about two words to my parents and that was it. They shut it down,” said Dennis Benson, who served in the Army from 1969 to 1970.

However, as the veterans age and the public perception shifts, more people do want to know.

For the second time, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1707 will recognize Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29. The open house is from noon to 5 p.m., and free for the public, at the VFW hall at 215 W. Collins St. in Portage. All Vietnam War veterans are welcome to attend and bring memorabilia to have on display.

In 2009, former Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bill into law declaring March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Last year, the “Welcome home brother” Vietnam Veterans Day was a big success, said Tom Schneller, who served in the Army from 1969 to 1970.

“It went excellent. We had an unbelievable turnout,” he said. The hall had about 100 people in attendance including a wide range of civilians and veterans.

This time, the atmosphere will be less formal and more of a meet and greet. Food will be available for a donation; the TVs will loop black and white photographs to a soundtrack of the era; and resources for veterans will be available.

The veterans who planned this year’s event said there are times when they sleep sitting up like in Vietnam; have night terrors and battle with health issues from the war.

The herbicide Agent Orange came down like mist from airplanes over the jungle and onto people below. It took years for the government to verify that it caused severe illnesses.

“We went to a base and they sprayed it before we got there. It was on the leaves and left behind just dead sticks everywhere,” Schneller said.

Chris Schutz, who hauled Agent Orange and other chemicals in a C-130 aircraft, said he remembers coughing up blood at the time. He served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 with the Air Force.

For Dave DuVall, the Navy told him to warn his family of harassment if he was killed because the sentiment might be that he “deserved to die.” He served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969.

More often than not, the soldiers went to Vietnam alone; returning soldiers were forewarned about wearing the uniform beyond the bases, Schutz said.

“When I was mustered out I was told I should remove my uniform before I left the base. It took me about three days to learn not to say anything to anybody,” he said.

Whether Vietnam veterans were drafted or volunteered, DuVall said, they’re proud to have served their country.

“One of the things I think Vietnam veterans don’t get credit for is that they kept kicking the desk. This generation is reaping benefits of how persistent the Vietnam vets are; saying (to the government) this is not right: Agent Orange, PTSD,” DuVall said.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Wisconsin Chapter 221 meets the first Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the hall. The chapter is open to veterans in Columbia and Sauk counties.

 

 

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WYOMING:

 

 

 

 

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

 

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/ariel-view/2014/03/crucial-decisions-split-seconds-fire-skies/

Crucial split-second decisions under fire in the skies

 

by Arie Egozi on 10 March, 2014

 

Lt Col Ron Arad is an Israeli air force (IAF) weapon systems officer who is officially classified as being missing in action since October 1986, but is widely presumed dead.

Arad was lost on a mission over Lebanon, when bombs released from under the wings of his F-4 exploded near the aircraft. He parachuted and was captured by Shiite group Amal, and was later handed over to Hezbollah. The pilot also parachuted and was rescued by an IAF helicopter.

IAF pilots are engaged in combat missions of different types frequently, and may face many ethical dilemmas while performing them. To try and prepare the pilots for such situations, a seminar was held last week at Uvda air base.

One dilemma brought up during the seminar was as follows: a pilot hears on the radio that his formation mate had to abandon his aircraft. Instincts cause him do whatever possible at that moment to assist in rescuing the downed pilot.

But what should the pilot do if his fuel tank is almost empty, his friend is in the middle of a dangerous area and he is dodging ground-to-air missiles? Should the pilot follow guidelines or risk himself and maybe even his friends and go help protect his wing-mate?

The pilots of the “Knights of the Orange Tail”, “Knights of the North” and “Bat” squadrons had to deal with similar dilemmas during the unique seminar.

Uvda is home to the enemy-simulating “Flying Dragon” squadron, which does everything in its power to make it difficult for the other squadrons to execute their missions, and force them to think differently.

During the intense, four-day seminar the squadrons were presented with ethical questions in which no decision could be made with 100% certainty. The pilots had to think quickly and deal with unfamiliar, unplanned situations about which they were not previously briefed on the ground.

“Even if after many flights you can tell if you acted correctly or not, this time around – after reaching the ground – you find yourself still undecided,” Maj ‘D’, the deputy commander of the Knights of the Orange Tail, told the IAF’s website.

Since the seminar was being held for the first time, even the control unit – which takes part in most exercises as a secret partner – did not know what the next step would be, and was just as surprised as the pilots.

“They were given a situation that according to all procedures requires a certain solution – but this time the pilots had to think ‘outside the box’ in order to come to a solution,” recalls Maj ‘Y’, deputy commander of the Flying Dragon squadron. “In most of the exercises there is a clear solution to the problems, and the challenge lies in successfully executing the mission.

“These events that have no right answer are the hardest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LINKS TO SHARE:

 

 

http://apps.npr.org/grave-science/ America’s effort to bring home its war dead is slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods.

 

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All it takes is BIG MONEY and political clout for these artifacts to ever be seen by the public. Check out EVERYTHING because some of us may be too old to hope to see these eventually in a museum.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/inside-the-armys-spectacular-hidden-treasure-room

 

 

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03 MARCH 2014

 

 

 

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READERS SHARE:

 

Vietnam War POW/MIAs – Are Any Still Alive in SEA 0r In Russia Today, 2014? Did The ” Watergate” Scandal of 1972-1974 Remove All American Diplomatic Leverage To Get Them Back? New Evidence of American POW/MIAs Left Behind--The Evidence Is Strong:-- There Probably Were LIVE American POWs in Southeast Asia and Russia after March 1973. Who is Hiding What? And from Whom?

On Dec. 5, 1991, the late U.S. Senator Jesse Helms was the ranking member of the Republican Minority on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On that date, Helms wrote to then-Russian President, the late Boris Yeltsin, concerning US servicemen who were POWs or MIAs. Helms said: “The status of thousands and thousands of American servicemen who are held by Soviet and other communist forces, and were never repatriated after every major war this century, is of grave concern to the American people.” On June 15, 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin replied: “Our archives have shown that it is true—some of them were transferred to the territory of the USSR and were kept in labor camps…we can only surmise that some of them may still be alive.” At about this same time, 98 U.S. Senators all signed a letter to Yeltsin asking similar questions. All this attention to the issue of POWs/MIAs resulted in the formation of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on POWs/MIAs, of which Helms became a member. The committee was chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) was Vice Chair. The former POW, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), played a significant leadership role on the committee. The U.S. Senate Select Committee on POWs/MIAs Final Report, released in early 1993, stated: “…We acknowledge that there is no proof that US POWs survived, but neither is there proof that all those who did not return had died. There is evidence, moreover, that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming {i.e. after March 1973]...” In the mid-1970s, Dr. James Schlesinger, then Secretary of Defense and a former CIA Director, told senators: “…I can come to no other conclusion, senator…some were left behind…” 2014, Current and 1993 Analysis by----- David S. Sullivan

The Smoking Gun Was Found, for Non-Returned POW Survivors, in 1992 and 1993—Yeltsin’s Admission and The Morris Document—AFTER the U.S. Senate Select Committee Closed the books and wrote their “Final Report” in early 1993.

This information was compiled in July, 1993 by Task Force Omega Inc., and is all declassified or unclassified. It was updated based on declassified CIA information NEWLY discovered in 2014.

Page 2 David S. Sullivan is a retired (1993) Senior Professional Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He assisted in the preparation of the original unclassified 1993 report below, just after he retired from 25 years of government service in August, 1993. The original “Sullivan” report has been on the internet since about 1993, on the Task Force Omega website. Dave Sullivan served as 3d Marine Div. G-5 Chief Vietnamese language officer, Chief civil affairs officer, and as the S-2 combat intelligence officer of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines—the “Walking Dead,” June 1968-July 1969. He then served 7 years as an analyst in the CIA, before resigning to work on the staff of a group of U.S. Senators. Between 1991 and 1992, he was detailed from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct an additional duty (while simultaneously serving as an SFRC Senior Professional Staff Member) as an “investigator” with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on POWs and MIAs. Sullivan is the author of 29 internationally recognized books, book chapters, and articles on foreign affairs. He graduated from Harvard cum laude in 1965, and earned an MA from Columbia in 1971. He also served 21 years as a tank and military intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 1993 as a Lt. Colonel.

Below is the original 1993 Sullivan Report on POWs, as supplemented by new evidence recently discovered in 2014. There is also some new analysis:

There are more than ten bodies of evidence showing clearly that scores of American POWs were left behind in Indochina, in Vietnam, Laos, and also in the Warsaw Pact former Soviet Union. I will describe these ten bodies of evidence briefly as follows: FIRST - There is important but still mostly secret White House and diplomatic evidence, involving Dr. Henry Kissinger's "BACK CHANNEL" negotiations with the North Vietnamese regarding “reparations,” and also President Nixon's "WATERGATE TAPES", showing that they knowingly left behind at least "87" POWs, especially in Laos. The Vietnamese were trying to use unreturned POWs as hostages in order to get reparations. SECOND - There is voluminous evidence of American POWs left behind in Indochina after “Homecoming” in March, 1973, from hundreds of human sources, including the thousands of "LIVE SIGHTING" reports of varying credibility about U.S. POWs in Indochina after 1973, by refugees, defectors, and Americans. Remember Garwood. THIRD - There is important and reliable "HUMINT" (human intelligence) evidence of POWs left behind from recruited and paid CIA and DIA espionage agents on the ground in Indochina. FOURTH - There is credible evidence, from the highest ranking defector from a communist country we have ever received, that many American POWs were transferred to Eastern Europe and to the former Soviet Union during the Vietnam War, were interrogated there on strategic subjects, were then used inhumanely for chemical Page 3 and biological weapons experiments, and WERE NEVER RETURNED. State Department reporting during the 1960s corroborates this report. See book Betrayed , by Dr. Joseph D. Douglas, Jr, ISBN: 1-4033-0131-X, 2002; and the book An Enormous Crime—The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia by former U.S. Representative Bill Hendon (R-NC) and Elizabeth A. Stewart, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2007. See novel by Nelson DeMille, The Charm School. FIFTH - There is extensive hard, physical evidence from aerial and satellite imagery, of unique emergency signals associated with SPECIFIC downed U.S. pilots, laboriously etched into the ground by probable American POWs left behind in Indochina. SIXTH - There is extensive, conclusive evidence from signals intelligence intercepts concerning American POWs held captive in Indochina after 1973. Moreover, a defecting North Vietnamese medical doctor reported in the late 1960s that there were over 700 American POWs then being held by Hanoi. (Only 591 were eventually repatriated by March, 1973.) SEVENTH - Because of all the converging evidence listed above, a U.S. covert action reconnaissance mission into Laos was reportedly mounted in 1981, and while this mission was botched and compromised, there are credible reports that even this aborted CIA mission detected at least one American POW still held in Laos. EIGHTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from 1967 State Department cables that American POWs captured in Indochina who never came home were held under Soviet control inEastern Europe. For example in East Germany and in Czechoslovakia, consistent with the high level Czech defector's testimony (Major General Jan Sejna.) NINTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from a credible Soviet fighter-bomber pilot who defected in 1989, that American POWs were assembled and kept in the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War. TENTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from a sensitive CIA source that as many as 700 American POWs, similar to reports of at least 300 French POWs surviving in VN from the First Indochina War, were kept behind in Vietnam as late as 1975, and even into the 1980's. By March, 1973, only 591 U.S. POWs captured by Hanoi’s forces were returned, but the Defense Department still listed 1,350 as POWs at that time, and until as late as 1976. Counting the new Russian Archival Document (Morris Document first released in early 1993 but totally ignored by the Select committee)), and the then-secret, official U.S. POW Accounting documents from after operation homecoming in 1973, and the ten bodies of evidence I have listed, there is a total of at least twelve bodies of converging, hard evidence on the question of whether American POWs were left behind. In particular, some of the most compelling evidence is the many emergency markings on the ground, probably etched by desperate men, almost begging to be repatriated. These emergency ground signals, going back as far as to 1975, and some as recent as 1988 and even June of 1992, are tragic. And even more tragic has been the U.S. failure to promptly follow-up on them, and return our men home. Many of these signals are unique "Authenticator" codes and distress signals specific to individual pilots known to have been shot down over Laos. Former Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) has revealed that a high-ranking Russian intelligence officer informed him that the 1972 Soviet GRU report (the “Morris Document”) was accurate, and that many hundreds of U.S. service were never returned after March 1973. Page 4 To repeat, the evidence for cases eight, nine and ten is new, recently un-covered evidence, which was NOT available to the 1991-1992 Senate Select Committee, so it deserves some more detailed examination. Russian President Yeltsin actually admitted in June 1992, in response to a letter to him signed by 98 U.S. Senators, that some Americans captured in the Vietnam War had been transferred from Hanoi to the USSR. This admission came AFTER the Senate Select Committee report was disseminated. FINALLY, a recently discovered declassified CIA report from 1982 states that as of about 1971, possibly as many as 2,000 American POWs had been transferred from Hanoi to a Soviet prison camp near Perm, USSR.

The “MORRIS DOCUMENT” from the Soviet military intelligence files—the very BEST EVIDENCE

I believe, as a long-serving professional intelligence analyst, that the most significant piece of evidence is the archival document found in Moscow in the records of the Soviet GRU military intelligence service in 1992. This document, found by Harvard researcher Steven Morris had information dated September 1972. This crucial document, the so-called “Morris Document,” was deemed credible when it was released in early 1993. Dr. Henry Kissinger, Dr. Zbig Brezsinski, and CIA’s leading expert on Vietnam, Dr. George Carver, all stated that they believed the Morris Document to be credible. Analysis of this document indicates that at least between 600 and 700 American POWs were still being held back by Hanoi AFTER Homecoming in March 1973. Their probable role was that of hostages. The Morris Document was released ATER the Senate Select Committee report was published. The Senate report makes no reference to the Morris Document. The report makes no mention of the 1982 declassified CIA report on 2,000 POWs in Russia (date of information 1971). Finally, the Senate report makes no mention of Yeltsin’s admission, or of the information given to Sen. Smith by a Soviet intelligence officer. PERHAPS SOME OF THIS NEW INFORMATION SHOULD BE LOOKED AT AGAIN, A LITTLE MORE CLOSELY THIS TIME

 

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To all 1/5 Vietnam Veterans and Hue City Veterans:

 

Our thanks to Marine John Wear (John served in 1st Tanks Battalion in Hue City) for sending this along. As you will see (read on, below), the Discovery / Military Channel is changing its name to the American Heroes Channel, and they are premiering a new series to promote their launch called “Against the Odds.” The first episode in this new series will screen next Monday night, March 3rd,  at 10:00 pm (9:00 pm Central) is called “Marines in Hue City.”

 

I got word of this a few days ago from Col. Myron Harrington, USMC (Retired) who as most of you know commanded Delta 1/5 in Hue.  I took a look at the new American Heroes Channel’s website, and at that time they had the entire video episode available to watch. I watched it about half way through (until my laptop “hung up” and the video stopped), and I believe it is a very good documentary and very well produced. However, please note that this episode of Marines in Hue City concentrates on the horrific fighting involving Alpha 1/1, the 1st Marine Regiment, and Golf, Fox and Hotel Companies from 2/5. This video does not include any stories or footage of 1/5’s fight in the Citadel.

 

Still, worthwhile to watch.

 

Semper Fidelis!

 

Nicholas Warr, 1/5 Vietnam Veteran

Hue City Veterans Association (In Formation)

4030 Little River Road

Hendersonville, NC  28739

(828) 243-8708 cell

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope you enjoyed the newsletter; if you have any information you'd like shared with readers, again, please email me at:
Gypsypashn@aol.com with the information, and I'll be sure to share it for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are reading this in English, thank a Veteran!

 

 

A special thank you to all who contributed to this newsletter by sharing information with me, Rod, Lou, Don, Susie, Ann, Saint, Paul, everyone! Thank you all!

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