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News & Stories
News | March 3, 2017

Returning with Honor

By Staff Sgt. Leah Ferrante

With 1,614 service members missing in action from the Vietnam War, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) deploys hundreds of service members, DoD civilians, and contractors all over the world in hopes of returning our nation’s fallen heroes.

Recently a team of 59 personnel completed DPAA’s second Laos mission of fiscal year 2017, covering the Central East region of Laos. From rice patties to mountainsides, the teams excavated thousands of square meters of land recovering important evidence relating to missing servicemen lost during the war.

“I’m very honored to have been part of this initiative to bring our missing home,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Walgenbach, recovery non-commissioned officer. “This mission has been the most unique part of my 13 year career in the military and I know others feel the same way.”

Every team member plays an important role in mission success. Whether that is the recovery non-commissioned officer setting up the sites, or the recovery leader collecting scientific data, working together ensures nothing is overlooked and the safety of the team remains number one priority.

Due to the efforts of the teams, Laos representatives handed over possible remains to the U.S. to be repatriated and welcomed back on American soil after 48 years. Upon arrival the possible remains will be transported to DPAA’s laboratory for examination and possible identification.

“During this mission I have worked along side some of the greatest men and women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and being chosen for the repatriation ceremony was a perfect way to end such a great mission,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Andrew Brod, recovery non-commissioned officer. “It is truly an honor to be bringing closure to the families of our fallen service members.”

The hard work and continued dedication of these teams makes it possible for DPAA to fulfill our nations promise and provide fullest possible accounting for our missing service members to their families and the nation.

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Public Affairs Contact Information

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency PAO
Washington, D.C.
2300 Defense Pentagon
Attn: Outreach and Communications
Washington, D.C. 20301-2300