WASHINGTON, Mar. 23, 2018 – Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Director Kelly McKeague completed his first oversight visit to Southeast Asia last week to assess the U.S. Government’s efforts to achieve the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing from the Vietnam War. McKeague, a retired U.S. Air Force Major General, who was appointed to the DPAA position in September 2017, traveled to the region March 9 - 21.
McKeague visited DPAA detachments in Bangkok, Thailand; Vientiane, Laos; and Hanoi, Vietnam; and met with senior U.S. officials in each country as well as senior host nation counterparts and a visiting Veterans of Foreign Wars delegation. In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, he met with the U.S. Ambassador and had an informal meeting with Cambodian counterparts.
Throughout the trip, McKeague was impressed by the staunch support of the respective U.S. Ambassadors and Country Teams, as well as the increasing commitment and cooperation of the host nations. “Our U.S. Ambassadors recognize DPAA’s noble mission being foundational to the United States’ expanding bilateral relationships in Vietnam and Laos,” he said. “I also saw firsthand the initiatives that have been implemented in Vietnam and Laos to improve and expand the pace and scope of our operations there.”
In Vietnam, McKeague visited a DPAA recovery team excavating a site in Quang Ngai Province where a Marine pilot remains unaccounted-for. He remarked, “The talent and dedication of the military and civilian professionals on our recovery team is inspiring. It was also noteworthy to see the level of rapport and support provided by our Vietnamese partners. We could not perform this mission without the cooperation of the Vietnamese government and people, and for that, I am very grateful.”
“We continue to make progress in accounting for our missing from the Vietnam War, but much work remains to be accomplished and time is our enemy. As such, we and our host nation partners are dedicated to diligently seeking opportunities to accelerate our joint endeavors. The missing we search for, and their families who await answers, deserve no less,” McKeague said.
1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
“DPAA’s motto is ‘Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise.’ It speaks to our moral imperative, even a sacred obligation, to steadfastly pursue the fullest possible accounting of our missing from past conflicts. In doing so, we also send a message to all who serve today – should they make the ultimate sacrifice, the U.S. Government will tirelessly endeavor to bring them home,” said McKeague.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.