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NEWS | July 2, 2024

DOD updates families of Vietnam War missing

By David Vergun DOD News

The Defense Department has a steadfast and sacred commitment to finding, recovering, identifying and repatriating the remains of its heroes who are unaccounted for, said Kelly K. McKeague, director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

McKeague spoke June 27 to family members of missing service members who fought in the Vietnam War. Agency personnel will continue to provide family members with individual updates on the searches for their loved ones at meetings in Washington. 

While DPAA has been searching for service members from all wars dating to World War II, the agency has prioritized finding the missing from the Vietnam War since firsthand witnesses in several nations where operations took place are aging and dying, he said. 

Senior Defense Department officials have visited Southeast Asian leaders to lay the groundwork for sending DPAA teams to investigate and excavate sites for possible remains, he said, adding that talks with officials in Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Thailand have been fruitful. 

Everyone in DOD, not just at DPAA, believes the agency's mission is a sacred obligation and a moral imperative, McKeague said.

"These are world renowned individuals, whether historians, scientists, archaeologists or anthropologists. And as renowned as they are, what sets them apart is not their professionalism, which is eye-watering, [but] what sets them apart is their passion, their dedication, and their commitment to you," he said. 

"Your loved ones made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of their nation. The nation — and we're just an instrument of the nation — is obliged morally to do everything humanly possible to give you these answers," he said, referring to finding the missing and returning them home. While Vietnam is an agency priority, DPAA teams are at work in dozens of other nations outside Southeast Asia, searching for remains from World War II, the Korean War and other periods.