Progress in Vietnam

April 15, 2018 PRINT | E-MAIL

Current Status of Unaccounted-for Americans Lost in the Vietnam War

Vietnam Laos Cambodia China Total
Original Missing 1,973 573 90 10 2,646
Repatriated and Identified 721 282 42 3 1048[1]
Remaining Missing 1,252 291 48 7 1,598


Of the remaining 1,252 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam, 470 are in a “non-recoverable” category. This means that as a result of rigorous investigation, we have conclusive evidence the individual perished, but do not believe it possible to recover his remains. On rare occasions, new leads can arise that bring a case back to an active status.

Field Operations

  • The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) plans to conduct four Joint Field Activities (JFAs) this fiscal year in Vietnam. Each JFA involves approximately 95 U.S. personnel plus their Vietnamese counterparts. Together, they work on investigations and excavations throughout the country for a period of approximately 30 days per JFA.
  • Recovered remains believed to be those of Americans are transferred to DPAA’s Central Identification Lab in Hawaii for further analysis and identification by forensic anthropologists.
  • The 130th JFA began February 28 and continued through April 15, 2018. Recovery and investigation teams worked sites in Da Nang, Soc Trang, Binh Phuoc, Gia Nghia, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, and Kon Tum Provinces.
  • The 131st JFA is scheduled to begin May 24 and continue through July 8, 2018. Recovery and investigation teams are scheduled to work sites in Thua Thien-Hue, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, and Ha Tinh Provinces.

Resolving “Last Known Alive” Cases

  • Of the original 196 individuals “Last Known Alive” in Vietnam (those who survived or may have survived their loss incident and were either alive on the ground, in captivity, or in immediate proximity to capture, but did not return), DoD has confirmed the death of 176, with 20 still unresolved.
  • Of the 176 whose deaths have been confirmed, the remains of 51 have been located and identified; efforts continue to recover the remaining 125.
  • U.S. and Vietnamese specialists will meet in Hanoi later this month to discuss Last Known Alive cases in Vietnam, as well as in Cambodia and Laos.

Research and Investigations

  • U.S. POW/MIA investigators rotate into Hanoi on a continuous basis to pursue leads associated with the remaining 1,253 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam.
  • A research effort continues in the Ministry of National Defense (MND) central archives. Since May 2012, Vietnam has turned over policy, strategic, and tactical level archival documents regarding unaccounted for Americans.
  • In addition to the interviews conducted during JFAs, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators have conducted nearly 300 oral history interviews of former and current Vietnamese government and military officials. This program is ongoing.
  • Since Vietnamese troops occupied large portions of Cambodia and Laos where Americans went missing during the War, the U.S. asked Vietnamese veterans and civilians to cooperate in our operations in the two countries. Vietnamese veterans have actively supported DPAA investigation and recovery operations in both Cambodia and Laos; many of these veterans have participated more than once.

1This number now includes the 63 Americans who were returned and/or identified from 1973 – 1975.
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