Here it is, almost the end of the year, and hopefully as a caring citizen, you’ve taken a moment during one or more of the anniversaries of Memorial Day, D-Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and yesterday’s Pearl Harbor Day, to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our nation.
I hope that you will agree with me that it is very important also to remember the tragedy of the MIA, those 85,694 souls who are listed as missing in action, whose remains, as yet, have not been found or identified.
The count of those still missing is: World War I: 3,000; World War II: 73,137; Korean War: 7,807; Vietnam War: 1,618; Cold War: 126; Gulf Wars: 5; and a little-known conflict known as The El Dorado Canyon “incident” in Libya: 1.
Many people are unaware that there’s an arm of the Defense Department known as The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and Accounting Command with an annual budget of $105 million, whose job it is to recover missing soldiers from past wars.
This large sum of money allocated by Congress each year reflects the reality of the commitment our government has to return home all of its military that it possibly can.
While some relatives have expressed discontent with the efforts of this group, it has generally received high praise for the extent of its efforts in finding, recovering and identifying the remains of missing Americans.
The search and identification team include professional genealogists, forensic anthropologists, archeologists, dental technicians, DNA scientists and explosive ordinance specialists. All of these specialists work as a team, 600 in all, to locate, recover, and identify remains to be returned to family members along with a book which details all aspects of the search and an analysis of the findings.
The Missing Personnel Office budget pays airfare for the closest of their kin to attend burial at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
More Americans should learn about the good work of this small, but important, governmental agency.
All our military deserves to come home.