Showing posts with label Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Vietnam veteran has not forgotten Spc. Clifford Van Artsdalen

Unaccountable: A Vietnam veteran's 10-year quest to bring his soldier home

Published: December 12, 2019

“I am deeply worried about when the last Vietnam veteran dies — the last man to see a fellow soldier alive, a man like me who gave him an order to go up that trail — who will be left to carry on the mission?”

Spc. Clifford Van Artsdalen, left, plays cards with his fellow platoon members on May 5, 1968, as they await a helicopter shuttle to Hill 352 on Nui Hoac Ridge, South Vietnam. GARY SANNER

Pushing through dense foliage toward the site of the bygone ambush, Michael McDonald-Low felt like he was floating through time.

He had longed for this day, planning thoroughly for the time he would return to this hillside in Vietnam’s Que Son Valley, where many of his infantry company were wounded or killed by a hail of North Vietnamese gunfire on May 11, 1968. The body of one of those soldiers in the platoon he commanded, Spc. Clifford Van Artsdalen, had never been recovered.

That fateful trek was etched like a gravestone inscription in his mind as he retraced his steps during this mission on March 9, 2012, to pinpoint the exact location of Van Artsdalen’s death so that his remains could be found and returned home.

He pressed on to find the split in the trail where he had sent Van Artsdalen and two other soldiers ahead to secure the route.

Soon after finding it, McDonald-Low was joined by the other 11 members of the mission team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the U.S. Defense Department body tasked at that time with finding America’s lost warfighters.

McDonald-Low was confident that this was the exact location where Van Artsdalen was killed, he told Stars and Stripes during a series of interviews about his search. With the location pinpointed — the government for years had been working with an erroneous place and date of his death — the way was finally clear to find and repatriate the soldier’s remains.

Seven years later, nothing has changed. McDonald-Low’s quest to bring him home is no further along than it was then.

And there is little time left.
read it here

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Watchfire Burns for the Missing

Watchfire Burns for those Missing in Action
By Chris Hooker
September 27, 2014
Remembering the Missing
ROTC members from three colleges showed up to light the symbolic beacon for missing soldiers on the shore of Cayuga Lake.

A bonfire burned brightly Friday night at Myers Point Park in Lansing, but to veterans everywhere, it was something much more symbolic.

Last week, September 19, the Finger Lakes Chapter #377 of the Vietnam Veterans of America held their 24th Annual Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Watch Fire at 7 p.m. The watch fire was held in commemoration of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The watch fire is an enormous bonfire that can be seen from afar, and especially across the lake from Myers Point Park. The watch fire aspect of National POW/MIA Recognition Day is not just a Lansing thing, as cities and towns all of America honor those who are still listed as a prisoner of war and missing in action in the same way.

"It’s the recognition of MIAs and POWs," said organizer Danny Baker, of Vietnam Veterans of America. "There are still people missing from Vietnam, Korea, World War II, Korea and Afghanistan. It’s just a way to bring attention that there are still people missing, so politicians won’t forget."
read more here

Friday, September 19, 2014

POW-MIA Day and the story few know

The Story of the POW/MIA Flag
By Marc Leepson
Published Online: April 18, 2012

Heisley modeled the flag's silhouette on his 24-year-old son, who was on leave from the Marines and looking gaunt while getting over hepatitis. Heisley also penned the words that are stitched on the banner, "You are not forgotten."
Newt Heisley, with the POW/MIA flag he designed. (Copyright Don Jones Photography)
You see it everywhere—the stark, black-and-white POW/MIA flag—flying in front of VA hospitals, post offices and other federal, state and local government buildings, businesses and homes. It flaps on motorcycles, cars and pickup trucks. The flag has become an icon of American culture, a representation of the nation's concern for military service personnel missing and unaccounted for in overseas wars.

From the Revolution to the Korean War, thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors have been taken prisoner or gone missing. But it took the Vietnam War—and a sense of abandonment felt by wives and family members of Americans held captive—to bring forth what has evolved into the nation's POW/MIA symbol.

The POW/MIA flag is inextricably tied to the National League of POW/MIA Families, which was born in June 1969 as the National League of Families of American Prisoners in Southeast Asia. Its mission was to spread awareness of the mistreatment of POWs at the hands of their captors. It was the brainchild of Karen Butler, wife of Navy pilot Phillip Butler, who had been shot down over North Vietnam in April 1965, and Sybil Stockdale, whose husband, Navy Commander James Bond Stockdale, was the highest-ranking POW in North Vietnam. Stockdale had been held prisoner since September 1965, when his A-4 Skyhawk went down over North Vietnam.

In 1971, League member Mary Hoff came up with the idea of creating a flag as the group's symbol. Her husband, Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hoff, had been missing since January 7, 1970. Mary Hoff called the country's oldest and largest flag-maker, Annin Flagmakers of Verona, N.J.
read more here
Thanks Gunny for the link to this!

Presidential Proclamation --- National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2014

America's history shines with patriots who have answered the call to serve. From Minutemen who gathered on a green in Lexington to a great generation that faced down Communism and all those in our military today, their sacrifices have strengthened our Nation and helped secure more than two centuries of freedom. As our Armed Forces defend our homeland from new threats in a changing world, we remain committed to a profound obligation that dates back to the earliest days of our founding -- the United States does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we express the solemn promise of a country and its people to our service members who have not returned home and their families: you are not forgotten.

My Administration remains dedicated to accounting as fully as possible for our Nation's missing heroes, lost on battlefields where the sounds of war ceased decades ago and in countries where our troops are deployed today. Whether they are gone for a day or for decades, their absence is felt. They are missed during holidays and around dinner tables, and their loved ones bear this burden without closure. Americans who gave their last full measure of devotion deserve to be buried with honor and dignity, and those who are still unaccounted for must be returned to their families. We will never give up our search for them, and we will continue our work to secure the release of our citizens who are unjustly detained abroad. Today, we acknowledge that we owe a profound debt of gratitude to all those who have given of themselves to protect our Union and our way of life, and we honor them by working to uphold this sacred trust.

On September 19, 2014, the stark black and white banner symbolizing America's Missing in Action and Prisoners of War will be flown over the White House; the United States Capitol; the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the

Selective Service System Headquarters; the World War II Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; United States post offices; national cemeteries; and other locations across our country. We raise this flag as a solemn reminder of our obligation to always remember the sacrifices made to defend our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 19, 2014, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gives former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, a hug after introducing him as the guest speaker at the 2014 National POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony at the Pentagon, Sept.19, 2014
DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

Thursday, August 14, 2014

WWII soldier buried with enemy no longer MIA

US soldier killed in WWII finally being laid to rest
Stars and Stripes
By Matthew M. Burke
Published: August 13, 2014

The remains of a U.S. World War II soldier, identified by French scientists earlier this year, are to be interred Wednesday on the 70th anniversary of his death.

Army Pfc. Lawrence Gordon was one of two soldiers killed on Aug. 13, 1944, when his M8 armored car 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 then reburied seven months later as an unknown in a German cemetery in France because the body was found with German clothing or equipment.

Despite years of research and evidence compiled by an amateur research team that the remains actually belonged to the U.S. soldier, accounting officials at the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command decided against exhuming and testing the remains last year. Instead, Gordon was positively identified Feb. 13 by France’s national crime laboratory with the support of German authorities.
“Thank God he was in a German cemetery,” Henry said Tuesday, still en route to Eastend. “If he was in an American one, there is no chance in hell he’d be home right now getting buried. He’d still be an unknown.”
read more here

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts

DOD: New POW/MIA accounting agency to open in January
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: July 15, 2014
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. JPAC's mission is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans form past conflicts.

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials testified Tuesday that the new agency to replace the troubled POW/MIA accounting community in charge of recovering and repatriating the remains of troops killed in past conflicts will be stood up on Jan. 1.

The agency will consolidate the work of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and the Joint Personnel Accounting Command as ordered by the secretary of defense in February, said Michael Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

Lumpkin testified before the House Armed Services’ military personnel subcommittee, which for years has pressed for reform and in 2009 helped pass a congressional mandate that the DOD recover at minimum of 200 remains annually beginning next year.

On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., chairman of the House subcommittee, said he was pleased that the DOD is moving ahead with the changes.

“What a positive report — that is very unusual in Congress,” he said.

The DOD efforts to recover 83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts have so far fallen far below the goal set by Congress and been dogged by incompetence and dysfunction, including claims agencies ignored leads, arguing against identifying remains in government custody, desecrated and mishandled of remains, and failed to keep critical records.
read more here

Monday, March 31, 2014

Two agencies become one for remains of missing U.S. war dead

Hagel announces restructuring of POW/MIA remains offices
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: March 31, 2014

WASHINGTON — A single Pentagon office will now be in charge of the troubled effort to identify and recover the remains of missing U.S. war dead, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday.

The order will create a “single accountable organization that has complete oversight of personnel accounting resources, research and operations,” overseen by the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Hagel said.

The decision follows a series of damning reports in the past year about the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the two agencies that had primary responsibility for MIA recovery efforts. The two will now be combined, along with certain functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, Hagel said.

To improve the search, identification and recovery process, DOD will create a centralized database and case management system containing all missing servicemembers’ information, Hagel said. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner working for the new agency will be the single identification authority. The medical examiner will oversee the science operations of the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, as well as satellite labs in Omaha, Neb., and Dayton, Ohio.

Families of the missing — who Hagel admitted have not always received clear communications from DOD — will also have a single point of contact with the new agency to make it easier for them to learn about search and identification activities.
read more here

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hagel shakes up MIA accounting agencies after negative reports

After unflattering reports, Hagel orders shakeup of MIA accounting agencies
Stars and Stripes
By Jon Harper
Published: February 21, 2014

WASHINGTON — 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.
read more here

Monday, September 23, 2013

Families express frustration with efforts to recover MIA members

Families express frustration with JPAC's efforts to recover war missing
Stars and Stripes
Matthew M. Burke
Published: September 23, 2013

On June 12, 1966, Marine Corps radioman Cpl. Gregory Harris and a contingent of South Vietnamese marines were ambushed and overrun in Quang Ngai province. When friendly forces retook the area the next day and recovered the dead, Harris was nowhere to be found.

His family’s nightmare was just beginning. They watched as Harris was first listed as missing, then declared dead. Months turned into decades of waiting in vain.

They say dealing with the military’s accounting agencies for the missing — known today as the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office — has been nearly as painful as the loss itself. They claim the agencies have withheld information and kept important documents out of Harris’ file. Credible leads weren’t followed, they say. potential grave sites weren’t excavated and important witnesses weren’t interviewed.
read more here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

U.S troops killed in action have a last ally

U.S troops killed in action have a last ally
By Misty Showalter, CNN
updated 8:33 AM EST, Thu January 26, 2012

Scientists and historians, military and civilians aim to recover all missing U.S. service personnel
The Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command digs at battle sites and crash sites for remains
In the lab they use dental records, photo recognition software and DNA tests to put a name to the remains
They call it the most honorable mission in the military
Editor's note: A team dedicated to finding, recovering and identifying every missing U.S. service member opens its doors to CNN International. Watch "World's Untold Story" Friday January 27 at 2330 ET, Saturday at 1630 ET and Sunday at 2330 ET.
Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii (CNN) -- There is a skull here, hundreds of fragments of bones there. Table after table is lined with human remains. One holds a near-complete skeleton, another has hundreds of tiny pieces of bone that could come from many different people.

Together, it tells the story of life and death in the military.

At the world's largest skeletal identification laboratory more than 30 forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and dentists of Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command are working to put names to the remains.

Based at Hickam Air Force Base -- site of the Pearl Harbor attack -- in Honolulu, Hawaii, JPAC is made up of all branches of the U.S. military and civilian scientists, united in the goal of bringing back all 84,000 U.S. service members who went missing during war or military action.
read more here

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Final Salute for Lance Cpl. Luis Palacios Vietnam MIA laid to rest

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
BACK HOME: Yolanda Montiel and her grandson Michael Montiel grieve during graveside services for her brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Luis Fernando Palacios, who was 19 when his helicopter crashed during the Vietnam War in 1968.
Marine killed in Vietnam 40 years ago gets a final salute as his remains are buried in Cypress
By Raja Abdulrahim Sat, 8 Nov 2008 10:10:16 PM
Lance Cpl. Luis Palacios, who died in a helicopter crash, is honored with a full military burial. A U.S. search team recently recovered his remains, which were identified through DNA.
By Raja Abdulrahim
November 9, 2008

Yolanda Montiel was only 10 years old when her older brother Luis Palacios was killed in Vietnam. Her memories of him are few but endearing, like the time he bought her a yellow hat or when he gave her piggyback rides.

Over the years, Yolanda's siblings and her late mother would tell her stories about Luis, which included the nickname he gave her.

"I didn't remember who used to call me rag doll," she said, "and it was him."

The day the family learned that Luis had been killed, a relative came to Yolanda's school to pick her up and on the way home tried to explain death.

The 19-year-old Marine was on a rescue mission on June 6, 1968, when his helicopter was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Lance Cpl. Luis Palacios was one of four passengers on the downed aircraft presumed dead but whose bodies were not found.

Then, in early September, Yolanda's family received the news they had been waiting for for 40 years: a U.S. search team had found some of Luis' remains. He was identified through a DNA sample that Yolanda had given to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command more than a decade earlier.

click link for more