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 efforts during the previous quarter to account for our missing.
Items of Note:
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the omnibus appropriation, funding the Federal government through 30 September 2018. The legislation provides DPAA with a $146.3M Operations and Maintenance appropriation, which fully funds our budget request and provides a $15M increase ($10M specifically for Southeast Asia operations and $5M for partnerships).
Details of the FY 2018 DPAA budget request can be found at: http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/FY2018/budget_justification/pdfs/01OperationandMaintenance/OMVOL1PART1/DPAAOP-5.pdf
DPAA Organizational Nomenclature Changes
The Indo-Pacific (IP) Directorate (formerly Asia-Pacific) aligns with the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy references to this geographic region. The Partnerships & Innovation (PI) Directorate (formerly Strategic Partnerships) better reflects its role and purpose and deconflicts this DPAA function with that of the Secretary of Defense and Combatant Commanders’ purview.
Director's February Feb 18-25 Trip to Europe
Mr. McKeague’s visits in Germany included key leader engagements at the U.S. Embassy, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Africa Command, advocating for increased collaboration and logistical and personnel support for DPAA missions. Additionally, German news magazine Der Spiegel, one of Europe’s largest publications, interviewed the Director, highlighting the impact and cooperation between DPAA and communities throughout Europe. Mr. McKeague then traveled to Ukraine, meeting with the U.S. Ambassador and Defense Attaché to coordinate their support for DPAA research and recovery operations. Additionally, he met with senior officials from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and Security Services to advocate for support for archival and archaeological research. Finally, Director McKeague traveled to France meeting with the U.S. Ambassador as well as American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) leadership to discuss the DPAA mission and future requirements.
Family Member Updates (FMU)
We hosted an FMU in Jacksonville, Florida, on February 24, 2018, with more than 200 Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II family members in attendance, and one in El Paso, Texas, on March 24, 2018, with 90 family members attending it. At both FMUs, local representatives from Congressional offices and Veterans Service Organizations attended as observers. The full FMU and Annual Meetings schedule can be found at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Family-Events/
Repatriation Ceremony and Solemn Movement in Palau
During 18-1PW, the Underwater Recovery Team successfully collected possible human remains from two American aircraft lost during WWII. On February 24, with the U.S. Ambassador to Palau in attendance, a plane-side repatriation ceremony was conducted in Koror, with the remains later transported to DPAA. For more information, please see
American Legion Annual Washington Conference
On February 26, Director McKeague provided an agency update that covered current missions, future operations, and developing initiatives. During a question-and-answer session, he addressed issues that included cooperation from foreign nations to federal budget impacts on the agency.
United States – Russian Joint Commission (USRJC) World War II Technical Talks
The Joint Commission Support Division (JCSD) and Europe-Mediterranean Regional Director traveled to Russia for the 2018 USRJC World War II Technical Talks on February 28. The working group sessions went very well with the Russian side answering previous questions and continuing to pursue more information. Likewise, JCSD members were able to address Russian information requests. Planning and coordination sessions took place for the upcoming joint expedition to Vladivostok, Russia, scheduled for May 11-25, 2018. The next Vietnam Working Group Technical Talks is being planned to take place at DPAA’s Hawaii facility in late April.
Director's March 11-21 Trip to Southeast Asia
Mr. McKeague completed his first oversight visit to Southeast Asia assessing the U.S. Government’s efforts to achieve the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing from the Vietnam War.
He 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 (VFW) delegation. In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, he met with the U.S. Ambassador and had an informal meeting with Cambodian counterparts. Lao and Vietnamese officials were receptive to further discussions on advancing initiatives that were proposed. Also, Mr. McKeague, the U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnamese officials visited a joint recovery team operating in Quang Ngai. For more information on this trip, please see http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1473712/powmia-director-concludes-first-southeast-asia-oversight-visit/
Repatriation Ceremony in Tarawa
On March 14, possible American remains discovered in South Tarawa during a contracted recovery by History Flight were returned to the U.S. after a repatriation event at Bonriki International Airport, Republic of Kiribati. This was the first repatriation of remains from Tarawa this calendar year. For more information, please see https://www.dvidshub.net/image/4214397/dpaa-conducts-repatriation-ceremony-tarawa
Deputy Director for Operations March 18-30 Indo-Pacific Trip
Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz traveled through the Indo-Pacific region stopping in Guam, Japan, Indonesia, and Burma. His visits in Guam included discussions with the U.S. DoD Joint Region Commander and the senior leadership of the University of Guam, advocating for increased collaboration and the establishment of partnerships to support increased operations throughout Micronesia. Rear Admiral Kreitz then traveled to Japan, meeting with senior officials at the U.S. Embassy, the Commander of U.S. Forces, Japan, members of the Japanese Diet, the Special Advisor to Prime Minister Abe, and senior members of the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare to garner support for an agreement to increase collaboration on operations and to standardize field forensic review procedures. Rear Admiral Kreitz also had the honor of presenting flowers during a ceremony at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, which contains the remains of 367,328 Japanese unknown war dead from World War II. Next, Rear Admiral Kreitz traveled to Indonesia, meeting with the U.S. Ambassador as well senior leaders of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Defense, the National Archeological Agency, and their national forensics medical laboratory to discuss support for the DPAA mission and future requirements. Finally, Rear Admiral Kreitz traveled to Burma, meeting with the U.S. Ambassador and senior leaders of Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Defense to discuss support for the DPAA mission.
Partnerships & Innovation (PI) highlights
As a result of early FY18 partnered activities, five sets of remains were accessed into the lab. During the past quarter, DPAA continued to work with eight research universities or related institutions to conduct historical research and analysis for unresolved cases. Partnered activities continue to be an agency priority as we expand our capability and capacity to account for the missing.
Case Management System (CMS) CMS reached initial operating capability March 1st and we have begun training and user testing. The team is excited as this new system will greatly enhance our internal communications, information flow, and collaboration.
Progress on the Public Portal continues to streamline and modernize and leverage new information technology to improve information sharing. Over the past year, DPAA has been publishing Profiles of Unaccounted for Personnel to our 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: https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfileHome.
VFW Senior Leader Trip March 10-25, 2018
VFW’s Vice Commander-in-Chief and Executive Director visited the DPAA team and facility in Hawaii and then traveled to Vietnam and Laos, where they met with U.S. senior officials, DPAA personnel, and host nation officials. While in Vietnam, they also visited a joint DPAA-Vietnamese recovery team conducting operations in Quang Ngai.
Annual Accounting Meeting
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) hosted the Annual Accounting Community Meeting on March 23, 2018, in El Paso, TX. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES); Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (ODASD (MC&FP)); U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Citizens Services (East Asia and Pacific); Service Casualty Officers (SCO) from U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs; American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC); Army National Military Cemeteries (ANMC); and numerous personnel from DPAA, including the DPAA Director Kelly McKeague.
Recently, DPAA photojournalists were recognized at the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) levels for their photojournalism skills. DPAA photojournalists continue to provide tremendous mission support and enable DPAA to better
tell our story through photos and videos. We are extremely proud of these valued members of the team as these awards are a testament to the dedication, team approach and excellence. Please see the below categories and links to the products that these Soldiers and Airmen produced.
PACAF 2017 Media Contest Award DPAA winners:
Operational Photo Series:
1st Place: SSgt Matthew Bruch, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
3rd Place: SSgt Leah Ferrante, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
1st Place: SSgt Matthew Bruch, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
2nd Place: SSgt Leah Ferrante, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
2nd Place: SSgt Matthew Bruch, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
Military Photographer of the Year:
SSgt Matthew Bruch, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, JBPH-Hickam, Hawaii
Air Force 2017 Media Contest DPAA Award winners:
1st Place: SSgt Bruch
Operational Photo Series
2nd Place: SSgt Ferrante
U.S. Army Pacific Keith L. Ware 2017 DPAA Award Winners:
Category J: Video Story
1st Place: SSG Jamarius Fortson (DPAA)/Search for the Fallen
Category A: Operational Photo Series
1st SPC Lloyd Justine Villanueva (DPAA)/DPAA Disinterment
Category F: Picture Story
1st Place: SGT Lloyd Justine Villanueva (DPAA)/Military Honors
Thursday, February 8, 2018 Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Quarterly Family/VSO/MSO Call Notes
Field Operations Overview
Indo-Pacific (IP) Region:
Operations in Last 60 Days:
Tarawa, (via History Flight Group, DPAA partner)
Laos, 3x Recovery Team (RT)/ 1x Investigation Team (IT)
Philippines, (via University of Illinois-Chicago, DPAA partner)
Vietnam, 4x Recovery Teams (RT)/ 3x Research and Investigation Teams/ 1x Unilateral Excavation Team
Tarawa, Repatriation of remains
Palau, Repatriation of remains
Burma, 1x IT
Japan, 1x Joint IT (Saiki City Cemetery)
Operations next 30 days:
Papua New Guinea, 1x IT
South Korea, 1 Research/Investigation Team
Philippines, (via University of Illinois-Chicago, DPAA partner)
Punchbowl Cemetery (Hawaii): 16 disinterred in February and 16 in March
Eight planned for April
Manila ABMC: 20 disinterred in March
The Europe-Mediterranean Directorate concluded its 2nd Quarter investigation missions and are finalizing preparations for its 3rd Quarter investigation and recovery missions. The directorate conducted its first partnered mission, investigative work in Italy with East Carolina University, and is preparing for 10x partnered RTs and 5x partnered UITs in 3rd and 4th Quarters.
Operations in Last 30 Days:
Poland, 1x IT
Italy 1x IT (East Carolina University, DPAA Partner)
Upcoming Operations (next 30 days):
Italy, 1x RT
Poland, 1x RT
Germany, 1x IT, 1x RT
France, 1x RT
Romania, 1x IT
Russia, 1x IT
These operations in Europe will resume Spring 2018
Scientific Analysis: 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 March 28, 2018:
Total = 62 (62 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel)
WWII = 47
Korean War = 11
Cold War = 0
Vietnam War = 4