BY GARY JONES, CHAIR
Here we are at the beginning of another year. Let me tell you what actually is taking place because of the efforts of your POW/MIA Committee and the great staff we have in Silver Spring. Often it takes a lot of work over a long period of time to get results. Success shows up in fits and starts. But there are some really good things coming about now as a result of the committee’s work.
I am very comfortable that we have successfully brought the Veterans Initiative Task Force into the committee as a program. I thank the Board, the committees, and the State Councils for that.
Congress recently passed legislation to impose additional requirements to §1509 of Title 10 in Public Law 111-84 to implement a “comprehensive, coordinated, integrated and fully resourced program” to account for those still missing from World War II through today and beyond. While this is a patriotic vote-getter, nobody has indicated what that means in light of the fact that we already have laws and, more importantly, commitments to do this—or how we are going to fund any real changes in the current approach. Keep this on your agendas when you talk to your congressmen.
We have gathered forty wheelchairs to send to veterans in Ukraine. We promised them we would try to do this, and it looks like it is about to happen. DPMO is working with the U.S. State Department and Ukrainian veterans organizations in Kiev to fund this shipment. These veterans have provided us with good information about our missing over North Vietnam, and they want to see the return of all soldiers to really end the war. This is a part of their culture and humanity.
We met VVA member Dan Tucker in Louisville last July. He was acting 1st SGT at FB Tomahawk where the Bardstown boys were overrun. He and Don Parrish, another veteran of that battle, have volunteered to go back to FB Tomahawk with the VI team in March to help pinpoint the actual burial site. In the early days of the VI, the team took Jim Kapucynski back with them to LZ Grant near Tay Ninh, where he identified a site where some one hundred remains were located by the Vietnamese. This single act contributed hugely to the cooperation at the highest and local levels and to the success of American recovery efforts.
We will revisit Khe Sanh with the Vietnamese Veterans Association to provide what help we can in resolving that case. Seabee Jack Haigwood has given us good information and also confirmed that there was a burial ceremony for the fallen enemy soldiers there. That speaks volumes for the respect between warriors.
We still seek information that we can take to the families, friends, and citizens of Vietnam. No item is too small or insignificant, as it is all a puzzle to put together, as our logo depicts.