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News & Stories
News | Jan. 19, 2018

1st Quarter Fiscal Year 2018 Update- January 2018

<p>Summary: Keeping the families of our missing as well as veterans informed is a primary objective of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency's (DPAA) mission. This update is intended to provide an overview of recent efforts to account for our missing.

Items of Note:

Budget Status
Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 began on October 1, 2017, as passed by the U.S. Congress, the federal government has operated under three consecutive Continuing Resolutions (CR). CRs temporarily fund federal agencies, while capping spending at FY2017 levels. To date, DPAA has only received $34 million (M), of its $131M budget request. While we had scheduled our first quarter field operations anticipating a CR, having it extended to January 19, 2018, and likely into February/March, continues to create adverse impacts to our operations because we are forced to either cancel investigations and recoveries, or reduce their scope. Details of the FY 2018 DPAA budget request can be found at:

Family Member Updates (FMU)
We hosted our first FY 2018 FMU in Boise, Idaho on November 4th, with 100 World War II, Korea/Cold War, and Vietnam War family members in attendance. We will be hosting family update meetings in San Diego, CA, on January 20, 2018. The full FMU and Annual Meetings schedule can be found on our website at:

Family and Veterans Delegations Visiting Southeast Asia
Separate delegations from the National League of POW/MIA Families and Special Operations Association (SOA)/Special Forces Association (SFA) are concurrently visiting Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand this month. Both delegations will meet with U.S. Ambassadors and Embassy officials, DPAA Detachment personnel, and Defense Intelligence Agency Stony Beach specialists in each country. The League delegation is also meeting with senior officials in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, to share perspectives and discuss topics of mutual interest to advance the accounting mission. The SOA/SFA delegation is meeting with American veterans as well as foreign veterans, who fought as enemies during the war. While in Laos, representatives of both delegations will visit DPAA recovery sites to thank U.S. and host nation personnel for their hard work and dedication to account for missing loved ones and unreturned fellow veterans.

Cambodia Update
The 52nd Joint Field Activity (JFA), scheduled to begin January 6, 2018, had to be cancelled last month due to the Cambodian government's decision to suspend cooperation with the United States in the Vietnam War accounting mission. DPAA is working with Department of State and other US Government officials to persuade the Cambodians to resume these humanitarian operations.

Repatriation Ceremony in Vientiane, Laos
DPAA and Lao officials participated in a Repatriation Ceremony on December 7, 2017. Possible remains from the Vietnam War were returned to the U.S. and are now in the DPAA Laboratory in Hawaii. Key Lao participants included Ambassador Khouanta, Director General, Europe-Americas Department and Mr. Somxai, Director of Americas Division, Europe-Americas Department, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Repatriation Ceremony in South Korea
DPAA Deputy Director, RDML Jon Kreitz, participated in a November 21, 2017 Repatriation Ceremony for remains disinterred from the UN Cemetery in Pusan, South Korea. These remains were buried as a British Unknown because of an associated dog tag. At the time, DNA capabilities were not able to identify the remains; however, with improved technology and an increase in family reference sample collection, DPAA scientists discovered the Unknown is in fact American. After coordinating with the UN Cemetery Commission-Korea, disinterment was approved and the UN Command Commander, GEN Vincent Brooks, presided at the Yongsan Army Garrison ceremony.

DPAA Reaches Milestone in USS Oklahoma Identifications
In November 2017, DPAA made the 100th identification from the ship’s casualties, who had been buried as Unknowns. “This milestone is illustrative of our talented laboratory professionals and strong partnerships with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of the Navy,” said Kelly McKeague, DPAA Director. “Most importantly, it helps resolve the uncertainties 100 families had harbored for 76 years.” To read the entire article, please visit

Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (South Korea) Visit
Members of MAKRI visited DPAA in mid-November to build upon an already strong relationship and to discuss ways to further collaborate. Col Lee Hak-Ki, MAKRI Commander, and the DPAA leadership in Hawaii, reviewed the current status of joint operations in South Korea and the laboratory’s ongoing Korean War Project.

Congressional Dedication: Commemorative Chair Honoring POW/MIA
Lawmakers celebrated the addition of a new chair to the U.S. Capitol, honoring American POWs and the thousands of service members missing in action. The commemorative chair, which sits in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, was unveiled during a ceremony on November 8, 2017. Lawmakers stated the empty chair will serve as a reminder to visitors as well as Members of Congress, of those who served, but have not yet returned home. The chair was made possible by the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act, at the urging of veterans group Rolling Thunder, which also raised funds to place the chair at the U.S. Capitol and worked with the architect of the Capitol on its design. Video of the ceremony can be seen here:

Profiles of Unaccounted For Personnel:
Over the past year, DPAA has been publishing to its website profiles of the missing summarizing the circumstances in which these courageous service members dutifully served our country. We invite you to browse our collection at:

Overview: In the 1st Quarter of FY 2018, there were 186 personnel deployed in support of operations around the world.

Asia-Pacific Region: RDML Kreitz traveled to South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos over Thanksgiving to visit field sites in Laos and Vietnam, and operations in Thailand.

  • Operations in Last 90 Days:
         o Tarawa, (via History Flight Group, DPAA partner)
         o Vietnam, 4x Recovery Teams (RT)/ 3x Research and Investigation Teams/ 1x Unilateral Excavation Team
         o Laos, 3x RT/ 1x Investigation Team (IT)
         o South Korea, 1x IT
         o Philippines, (via University of Illinois-Chicago, DPAA partner)
         o India, 1xIT
         o Palau, 1x Underwater IT
         o South Korea, 1x IT

     • Upcoming Operations (next 30 days):
         o Laos, 1x IT/ 3x RT
         o Burma, 1x IT
         o Palau, 1x Underwater RT
         o Papua New Guinea, 1x IT
         o Philippines, (via University of Illinois-Chicago, DPAA partner)
         o India, (via SEARCH, DPAA partner)

    • Disinterment Operations:
         o Punchbowl Cemetery (Hawaii): Excavated 23 Unknowns in October 2017; 8 Unknowns on January 8, 2018. The next disinterment is scheduled for January 22, 2018.
         o Manila American Battle Monuments Commission: Excavated 5 Unknowns in October 2017; the next disinterment is scheduled for January 2018.

Europe-Mediterranean Region: During 1st Quarter, operations in Europe involved investigation missions and host-nation engagements to set conditions for future investigations and recoveries. Director Kelly McKeague participated in the US-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) 21st Plenum in Moscow from November 7-9, 2017, and then moved on to conduct foreign engagements in Luxembourg and Germany. Invited by the Russian Side, representatives from the National League of POW/MIA Families and the Veterans of Foreign Wars participated as observers in the Plenum. Finally, the Europe-Mediterranean Directorate began preparations for upcoming 2nd and 3rd Quarter investigation and recovery missions, and began development of partnership options for both terrestrial and underwater missions.

    • Operations in Last 90 Days:
         o Sicily, 1x IT
         o France, 1x Isolated Burial
         o Romania, 1x Pre-Deployment Site Survey

    • Upcoming Operations (next 30 days):
         o USRJC Technical Talks on WWII Cases in Russia (February, 2018)
         o 18-2 IT IT (Anzio, Italy) – February 19 – 28, 2018

    • Disinterment Operations
         o Excavated one Unknown in October 2017
         o Disinterment Operations in Europe scheduled for Spring 2018

Scientific Analysis: During 1st Quarter, the Scientific Analysis Directorate successfully completed a five-year assessment for continued accreditation under American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) in affiliation with the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB); this included inspections in both the Hawaii and Nebraska DPAA laboratories. Exhumations from the Punchbowl Cemetery were completed for the USS West Virginia (35 caskets). The large scale project teams (i.e., Korean War Project, Tarawa Project, USS Oklahoma Project etc.), continue to work diligently and are adding to the cases for identification in monthly loss review meetings.

    FY 2018 Identifications, as of December 31, 2017:
         o Total = 16 (16 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel)
         o WWII = 13
         o Korean War = 2
         o Cold War = 0
         o Vietnam War = 1

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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