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News & Stories
News | July 10, 2018

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Quarterly Family/VSO/MSO Call Notes

Family/VSO/MSO Update Call
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Quarterly Call Notes
Thursday, May 10, 2018, 2:00 PM

DPAA Participants:
Mr. Kelly McKeague, Director,
Mr. Todd Livick, Director, Outreach and Communications
Mr. Johnie Webb, Deputy, Outreach and Communications
Mr. Mike Fowler, Outreach & Communications
Mr. John Hamilton, Director Policy & Plans
Colonel Chris Forbes, USA, Director, European-Mediterranean Operations
Colonel Mike Gann, USMC, Director, Indo-Pacific Operations
Dr. Tom Holland, Director, Partnerships and Innovation
DPAA Laboratory representative, Scientific Analysis

Family-VSO-MSO Participants:
Coalition of Families
Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Honor Release Return, Inc
Korean War Advocate
Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing
Korean War Veterans Association
National League of POW/MIA Families
Special Operations Association/Special Forces Association
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

• Update on the Personnel Accounting Mission (Director Kelly McKeague)
• Annual Accounting Community Meeting (Plans & Policy Director, John Hamilton)
• Operational Update (Dir Indo-Pac Col Mike Gann/Dir Euro-Med COL Chris Forbes)
• Partnerships & Innovation (IP) Update (Director, IP, Dr. Tom Holland)
• USRJC Update (Director, Europe-Mediterranean, COL Chris Forbes)
• Scientific Update (DPAA Laboratory representative)
• Question and Answer

Update on the Personnel Accounting Mission:
Director’s Comments:
- We received our full budget request of $131.2M, and Congress added $10M for Vietnam War accounting and $5M for partnerships; thanks to those of you who educated Congress on the mission’s importance
- The President’s budget request for FY19 is $130.6M and is being considered by Congress.
Recent Events
- February 2018: The Director traveled to Europe for a site visit. Among the highlights was Ukraine’s openness to archival cooperation and allowing access to Soviet-era records in Security Services archives


- March 2018: The Director traveled to Southeast Asia and presented initiatives to improve effectiveness and efficiencies. Host nation officials were receptive in Vietnam to these proposals and mixed in Laos. A highlight of a recent Joint Field Activity (JFA) in Vietnam is Senior Airman Tycoria Johnson, an Air Force communications specialist, who was an augmentee on one of our JFAs in Vietnam and is the daughter of a soldier lost in the 2001 helicopter crash in Vietnam. The Vietnamese took her to the memorial erected to honor the 7 Americans and 9 Vietnamese killed in the crash on the 17th anniversary of her father’s death.

Please see the posted link to see more on this story:

- April 2018: USRJC Vietnam War Working Group met for technical talks at our Hawaii facility, where we provided them several specific requests, and more importantly, two senior USRJC officials saw tangible outcomes to our requests and they met with analysts and saw the DPAA Laboratory and forensic work firsthand.

- May 2018: DPAA met with a Chinese delegation for consultations at the Pentagon, pressing them on archival information and stable, sustained field work and introduced the concept of public-private partnerships. On a positive note, the People’s Liberation Army Archives has increased manpower and funding, and are able to fund more field surveys. Additionally, they expressed an openness to public-private partnership initiatives. China is the only country where there are losses from all four conflicts: Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Cold War, and World War II.

US-North Korea Summit,
- June 2018: DPAA closely worked with the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of State to better shape/define the issue of Korean War unaccounted for in North Korea.
- DPAA’s Indo-Pacific Regional Directorate continues to plan and is prepared to receive unilateral remains turned over from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and are in a be-prepared-to position for negotiations and subsequent field operations should those avenues matriculate from Department of State led negotiations.
- Richardson Center is also actively engaged in North Korea and US discussions on repatriation.

Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Visit
- Delegation from the VFW visited Laos and Vietnam in March. Besides our detachments, the delegation met with senior US and Host Nation officials; adding valuable advocacy of our mission to host nations.
- No change to the Visa sanctions imposed on Cambodia and Cambodia’s suspension of cooperation for our mission. Sanctions for Laos and Burma continue to be discussed at the Department of Homeland Security, but no action has been decided to date, and our staff is engaged with the Department to be appraised of any changes.
March 23, 2018 Annual Accounting Meeting
- DPAA hosted the Annual Accounting Community Meeting on March 23, 2018, in El Paso, TX. The meeting was attended by representatives from the accounting community where the most significant discussion continued on increasing the efficiency of the disinterment process.

Significant Events Since Last Update
• March 24, 2018 El Paso, TX Family Member Update (FMU)
o On March 24, 2018, the Agency hosted a meeting in El Paso, Texas for 90 family members of missing servicemen. The below is a breakdown of the families and missing by conflict:

 42 Korean War representing 21 missing personnel
 33 World War II representing 14 missing personnel
 15 Vietnam War representing 6 missing personnel

 Representatives from the VFW, American Legion, the WWII Museum and staff from Rep O’Rourke’s office attended.
 We also meet with cadre at the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss.

• April 21, 2018, Rapid City, SD, FMU
o On April 21, 2018, the Agency hosted an FMU in Rapid City, SD for 67 family members of missing servicemen. The below is a breakdown of the families and missing by conflict:

 27 World War II representing 14 missing personnel
 33 Korean War representing 15 missing personnel
 1 Cold War representing 1 missing person
 6 Vietnam War representing 3 missing personnel

 VFW, American Legion and a staffer from Senator Rounds office attended the FMU.
 We also met with Senator Rounds and Thune staffers and briefed 28th Bomb Wing personnel.
• May 19, 2018, Louisville, KY, FMU
o As of May 8, we have 193 family members signed up to attend.
 14 Vietnam War losses/39 Korean War losses/43 WWII
• June 20-24 National League of Families 49th Annual Meeting
• August 9-10 Annual Korean/Cold War Annual Government Briefing

Operational Update (Dir Indo-Pacific, Col Mike Gann/Euro-Med Dir COL Chris Forbes)
We have changed the name of the Asia Pacific directorate to the Indo-Pacific (IP) Directorate. The Agency enacted the name change to reflect the current verbiage used in the National Security Strategy (NSS) and by PACOM as it relates to the area of the world this directorate is working.

Overview of the IP Director's recent meetings in Laos and Vietnam. The intent of these meetings with the Lao MIA Team and the VNOSMP (Vietnam Office Seeking Missing Persons) was to begin the process of operationalizing the initiatives introduced during the Agency Director's visit in March of this year. As mentioned by Mr. McKeague, both sets of meetings were fairly positive, illustrating the continued desire by both the Lao and the Vietnamese to increase capacity and effectiveness of our missions in the coming years.

Overview of the recent annual LKA (last Known Alive) meeting held in Hanoi on April 18, 2018. Currently, DPAA is tracking 35 cases concerning 43 individuals. The panel recommended two cases for a “LKA Board” normally scheduled during the early fall. These are losses where we believe we have sufficient evidence to conclude the individual did not survive the loss incident. NOTE: LKA Board a generic term to describe the analytical review process; all individuals from the Vietnam War were “fate determined” during the presumptive finding of death hearings in the 1970s.

Overview of the semiannual case coordination conference held in Washington, DC on 1-4 May. Researchers and analysts from the IP Directorate reviewed over 500+ cases associated with the Vietnam War.

Provided an update on current operations in Laos, Kiribati (Tarawa), the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and South Korea. Additionally covered planned operations within the next 60 days that includes two partnership missions to Northern Marianas (East Carolina University and the Philippines (University of Illinois at Chicago), as well as planned activities in Vietnam, the Solomon Islands and Laos. Key point concerning the planned 18-5 mission to Laos is the anticipated increase to the number of Recovery Teams (RTs) we plan to put in the field (an increase from 1 to 3 RTs with the addition of a Limited Joint Investigation Element (LJIE)).

• Vietnam War:
• Laos: 18-4LA (2 May – 22 Jun) 3 x RT (Recovery Team); 1 x LJIE

• World War II:
• Tarawa: 18-1KI via History Flight Group
• Philippines: 18-3PH (14 Apr – 11 May) via University of Illinois-Chicago
• Papua New Guinea: 18-1PG (17 Apr – 4 May) 1 x Investigation Team (IT)

Korean War:
• Korea: 18-1KR (14 Apr – 30 May) 1 x IT

There have been 120 disinterments conducted since October of 2017 (71 WWII/Korea from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) and 49 WWII from the Manila American Cemetery). Currently there are no additional disinterments scheduled at either cemetery until after the conclusion of all Memorial Day activities/remembrances.

Future Operations (60-days out):
• N. Marianas 18-1MP (21 May – 13 Jun) 1 x UIT
• Philippines: 18-4PH (June) via University of Illinois-Chicago
• Vietnam 18-3VN (6 Jun – 8 Jul) 3 x RT, 2 x VRT (Vietnam Recovery Team),
1 x URT (Underwater Recovery Team), 1 x RIT (Research &
Investigation Team (interviews))
1 RIT-B (Research & Investigation Team (surveys)
• Solomon Islands 18-1SB (11Jun – 8 Aug) 2 x RT, 1 x IT
• Laos 18-5LA (8 Jul – 14 Aug) 1 x RT

Euro-Med (EM):
Rear Admiral (RDML) Kreitz visited our EM Area of Operations at the beginning of May. Some highlights of his trip included his visit to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) operational headquarters in Paris. This was a very important engagement as we rely heavily on the great support from ABMC for our disinterment operations. He also represented the Agency in Buysscheure, France where we recently recovered and identified a missing WWII pilot, 1LT Frank Fazekas, Sr. The village was so impressed with the Fazekas story that they held a memorial ceremony and renamed the village library in his honor. RDML Kreitz also visited two DPAA recovery missions, one in France and one in Sicily. He also met with EUCOM subcomponent commands and also conducted an interview with Stars and Stripes highlighting recent accomplishments in our mission.

USRJC: The next event for the Commission will be the Cold War Working Group Tech Talks held in Vladivostok, Russia on 25 May 2018. Mr. Tim Shea, the U.S. Side Cold War Commissioner will be the U.S. lead for these talks.

In the past 60 days EM has been conducting 2 organic RT missions, one in France and one in Sicily. We conducted one IT mission in Italy - focus was on the ground losses in Anzio area. We just had an IT depart for Vladivostok, Russia yesterday to conduct a Joint U.S.-Russian expedition - the first of its kind since 1996. The team consists of DPAA members, two archaeologist professors from the University of Pittsburgh (resources through DPAA Partners and Innovations Directorate (PI)), and 15 Russian counterparts to include 9 Russian Marines. Together they will investigate 3 airplane crash sites and one hospital cemetery in search of 10 missing Cold War crew members from a P2V-3W Neptune shot down by the Soviet Union.

EM will conduct 14 RT missions in 6 countries: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Poland. Two of those missions will be conducted using organic DPAA teams augmented by DOD personnel. One team will be an underwater recovery team (URT) utilizing DPAA divers jointly with French Navy divers and vessel off the coast of Corsica. The 10 RT missions will be conducted by partner teams resources through DPAA’s PI Directorate. We also will conduct 5 IT missions (4 organic teams and 1 partner - History Flight) in 5 countries: Germany, Italy, Austria, France and the Netherlands.

World War II
• Italy: 18-5IT RT (15 Apr-7 Jun)
• France: 18-1FR RT (15 Apr-7 Jun)
Cold War:
• Russia: 18-1RU IT (11 May-25 May)
EM successfully conducted 19 disinterments of unknown service members in April. There will be no disinterments in Europe in the month of May due to ABMC events. In June, we are presently scheduled to conduct 10 disinterments. We are limited to only 75 disinterments a year in EM’s area of operations and can only conduct them currently April - Sept. One of our projects, the Huertgen Forrest, where there were 201 missing (171 of them buried as unknowns) have yielded 5 identifications since we started working this in 2016. We are positive the number of IDs from this project will steadily rise in the near future.

Future Operations (60-days out):
• Czech Republic: 18-1CZ RT (Recovery Team) (14-16 May)
• France: 18-2FR URT (Underwater Recovery Team) (20 Jun-5 Jul);
18-2FR URT (20 Jun-5 Jul);
18-7FR RT (Jul/Aug) w/St. Mary's University);
18-8FR RT (Aug) w/University of Wisconsin)

• Germany: 18-3DE IT (30 May-21 Jun), 18-2DE RT (22 Jul-13 Sep);
18-5DE IT (18 Aug-31 Aug);
18-9DE RT (Jun-Jul) w/Archeology and Heritage Consultancy;
18-10DE RT (Jun-Jul) w/Florida Gulf Coast University;
18-11DE RT (Jun-Jul) w/Iowa State University);
18-8DE RT (Jul/Aug) w/Cranfield University;
18-12DE RT (Jul/Aug) w/New Orleans University & University of
18-13DE RT (Aug) w/Cranfield University

• Austria: 18-1AT IT (08 Jul-25 Jul);
18-2AT RT (Jul/Aug) w/University of Maryland & University of
• Italy: 18-4IT IT (31 Jul-22 Aug);
18-7IT RT (Jul/Aug) w/Archeology and Heritage Consultancy)
This will be my last VSO/MSO conference call as I am retiring this summer. It has been a high honor to serve both the Families and all of you while conducting this most noble mission. My replacement, U.S. Army COL Brian Pearl, and I have already begun our transition, and I am positive that he will continue to advance the mission as he is a far better officer than me.

Partnerships and Innovations Update (Director, PI, Dr. Holland)
DPAA is currently working with 60 partners and with an additional 20 in the works. We expect a total of about 100 active partnerships by the end of the calendar year. We are also in the final stages of securing permissions for grants and cooperative agreements which will significantly open the door to funding partnerships and attracting new partners.
• 32 Partner missions planned for FY18 (2 completed as of 1 May 2018)
• 18 missions in EM
• 14 missions in IP
• Variety of Partners
• University of Illinois-Chicago
• East Carolina University (Underwater Investigation and Recovery)
• Florida Gulf Coast University
• University of Wisconsin
• University of Maryland (with University of Vienna)
• University of New Orleans (with University of Innsbruck)
• University of Malta (Underwater Investigation and Recovery)
• University of Queensland [Australia]
• Cranfield University [England]
• Saint Mary’s University [Canada]

• Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (Florida)
• BentProp (with University of Delaware and UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography)
• Institute for Maritime History (Maryland)
• Government Entities
• Naval History and Heritage Command
• Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Other Initiatives
• Arranged for a private company to supply UXO (unexploded ordnance) clearing in Laos
• Continue to build research network among university military history programs

IDs FY 2018 Review (Scientific Analysis, Ms. Tina Schmitt)
As of March 31, 2018, the laboratory was accredited by ANAB (the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board) in Forensic Sciences.

FY 2018 Identifications, as of May 4, 2018:
o Total = 85 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
o WWII = 66 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
o Korean War = 15 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
o Vietnam War = 4 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel

Question and Answer
DAV: Thank you for the update to the budget. I am pleased to see that the Vietnam War is still a priority. Is DPAA’s funding still subject to sequestration or is there an exemption?

Answer: While sequestration is not in effect for the next two years, our budget is still subject to any reductions Congress or the DoD might impose.

Question: Are there any LKAs (Last Known Alive) for the Korean War. National League of POW/MIA Families pointed out that there were personnel known to have been captured that would be LKAs.

Answer: There is not a formalized LKA program for the Korean War as was established in the 1980s for the Vietnam War. However, there are certainly cases of Korean War missing who we know survived their shoot down, were in captivity, and who did not return after the Armistice. We continue to press both the Chinese and Russian governments for any information they may possess on these men.

Special Operations Association: Are you planning to use any of the funding increase you received this year to increase the number of analysts?

Answer: We are currently in the process of hiring all of the vacancies, to include analysts, which we have and have not been able to previously hire due to the uncertainty of our funding.

TAPS: I found your mention of the Ukraine very interesting as TAPS has been approached by the Ukrainians to work with their war survivors.

Coalition of Families: I have a three part question regarding your plans for joint operations in North Korea: how many operations do you plan to propose for FY19? Will you focus on battle fields as was previously done or will you ask to visit air loss sites? Understanding that the North Koreans are unlikely to allow your investigators to interview witnesses around the country, have you thought about a program where they or a third party would conduct interviews with witnesses to losses to ensure that information is not lost forever?

Answer: When we are allowed to negotiate with the DPRK, we will propose three Joint Field Activities preceded by an advance mission to construct base camps and other requirements. We are anticipating JFAs lasting 45-56 days depending on weather windows. End of Oct to mid March the ground is frozen. Mid-March to mid-October is the operational window with monsoon and typhoon season from mid-June to the end of August. Our intent is not to detract from recovery and investigative missions for other wars. North Korea has been historically averse to allowing us to visit crash sites, so we are going to initially ask to return to the battlefield loss areas where there are large numbers of missing. In anticipation of future possible access however, the Joint Commission division has assembled information gathered from Russian archival work relating to crash sites. Our negotiations will definitely address access to witnesses.

Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing: No questions. Comment: I want to thank Colonel Forbes for his outstanding service to the accounting mission and the families.

VFW: Comment: Thank you for your call today and for the great work you all are doing.

Korean War advocate: Previously we conducted five JFAs in North Korea? Why are we not doing so again? Did the Chinese make any commitments on recoveries—in particular, Dandong? I did not hear much about the K-208 and Punchbowl IDs.

Answer: We plan to conduct four operations—three being recovery operations with a duration of 45-56 days depending on weather windows. This should result in about the same number of days on the ground as previously conducted but is more efficient. We did conduct a ground operation in the summer of 2017 in Hunan Province, and the Chinese delegation supported our request to conduct missions in the future. To assist in approval, DPAA will submit mission requests via diplomatic notes. For next year, we plan to submit a diplomatic note, to MFA, with three-four mission options, with the intent being that MFA will review and provide feedback on which mission they can support. The Korean War Project encompasses remains from the K-208, prior joint recoveries in North Korea, and Punchbowl unknowns. This is where all of our Korean War IDs are coming from and more are in progress.

Closing Comments by Mr. McKeague: Thanked everyone for their participation, insights, and contributions to the discussion.

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