POW/MIA Bulletin Update 02 January 2009

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: There are 1,742 US personnel listed by the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. On December 15th, DPMO released an announcement naming four US Air Force personnel whose remains will be part of a group interment on December 18th at 9:00 a.m., Arlington National Cemetery. The four men are Major Bernard L. Bucher of Eureka, IL; Major John L. McElroy of Eminence, KY; 1st Lieutenant Stephen C. Moreland of Los Angeles, CA; and Staff Sergeant Frank M.Hepler of Glenside, PA. Two other servicemen, individually identified in October 2007, are also represented in this group of US personnel lost on May 12, 1968, on board a C-130 Hercules aircraft evacuating Vietnamese citizens from the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp near Da Nang, South Vietnam. They are Captain Warren R. Orr, Jr., USA, of Kewanee, IL, and Airman 1st Class George W. Long, USAF, of Medicine, KS. The remains of these men were recovered over a period of several years from 1993 to 2007 and five separate field investigations and recoveries. This brings to 841 the number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. 90+% of the 1,742 still missing from the Vietnam War were lost in Vietnam itself or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control.

DEFENSE ATTACHE OFFICE OPENED IN LAOS: A Defense Attaché Office (DAO) was officially opened on December 5th at the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos. The long-sought agreement to exchange military attaches between the US and Laos was first announced in 2007. The new US Defense Attaché, Army LTC James McAden, met with senior officials at the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense as part of the DAO opening. US Ambassador to Laos Ravic R. Huso hosted a reception that evening for Lao and US officials, as well as counterpart attaches in the embassies of other countries with representation in Vientiane.

LTC McAden is a Southeast Asia Foreign Area Specialist (FAO). He most recently served as Deputy to the Foreign Policy Advisor at the US Pacific Command (PACOM) in Hawaii and previously served at the US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. He holds a Master of Arts in Asian Studies from The Johns Hopkins University and an Advance Diploma in Strategic and Defense Studies from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College and of the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College.

DEFENSE ATTACHE ACCEPTED BY VIETNAM: After months of awaiting official approval from the Government of Vietnam, COL Patrick Reardon, USA, will shortly depart with his family for Hanoi. The first exchange of attaches between the US and Vietnam occurred fairly early in the bilateral relationship formally established in 1995. The resulting improvements in the military-to-military relationship have been useful and are beneficial to both countries, including the pursuit of answers on America’s POW/MIAs. There is announced agreement by Vietnam that the use of a US Navy ship in the accounting process can occur and is expected in March of 2009. The final details are still being worked out, but since the latest formal announcement was made by the Prime Minister during his June 2007 visit to Washington, DC, there should have been no further delay; however, the SRV has again requested that the US Navy hydrographic ship mission be postponed until the May-June 2009 timeframe and the US has agreed.

JPAC OPERATIONS: No JPAC operations were ongoing during the last half of December to enable JPAC personnel to spend the holidays with their families.

STATUS OF THE LEAGUE: Since the financial appeal was distributed in mid-October, funds have been received to enable the League to continue through December 31st. The Board of Directors will be meeting in early February to discuss where things stand. The Board and Executive Director are exhausting every possibility to ensure the League’s continuation, hopefully despite the economic downturn now facing the US. League members and supporters are urged to be imaginative in trying to raise funds and to contribute to the extent possible to sustain League efforts.

PLAN NOW TO ATTEND THE 40TH ANNUAL MEETING JULY 22-25, 2009: Next year’s annual meeting promises to be special in many ways, including commemoration of over 35 years since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, and 40 years since the League was formed May 28, 1970. Governmental transitions are taking place, and there will be much to discuss and decide in terms of the League’s and the issue’s future. Importantly, it will also be the first year of a new administration. Any such political turmoil brings with it many changes in leadership and focus that, hopefully, will benefit the issue, but require close attention and actions by all members and supporters, especially our major national veterans organizations. Please do your part and start planning now to participate, arriving early if possible to call on Members of Congress and visit meaningful sites in our nation’s capital BEFORE the important sessions start on Thursday, July 23rd. The Secretary of Defense is again expected to authorize COIN Assist transportation.

COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN (CFC): The League (a 501 [c] 3 nonprofit) has again met the stringent criteria for eligibility in the 2008 campaign, and our official number is the same, CFC #10218, assigned by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Washington, DC. The League is the ONLY nonprofit organization representing American POW/MIAs, KIA/BNRs and their families eligible for donations through CFC & United Way. Despite the reality of many competing charities and much need, especially in a time of war, the League is proud of our eligibility, due to tough requirements that must be met and is in urgent need of tax-deductible donations, FEIN #23-7071242.