JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HAWAII , JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HAWAII –
Deputy Director for Operations for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Darius Banaji, and other agency senior leaders hosted Dr. Andrew Moutu, director of the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG), and a team from NMAG for a Papua New Guinea operations summit that culminated in the signing of the DPAA-Papua New Guinea Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), May 13, 2022.
There are more than 46,000 missing U.S. service members from World War II in the Indo-Pacific region. The partnership between DPAA and NMAG has resulted in the return and identification of over 320 U.S. service members. The MOU will ensure continuation of the cooperation between the two organizations and the preservation of the commitment to fulfill our nation’s promise.
“Partnerships like the one we have with Papua New Guinea will allow us to facilitate creative solutions and resolve gaps in our capabilities,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. C. Matt Brannen, director for DPAA’s Indo-Pacific Directorate. “Through continued development and expansion of partnerships, we will further augment our capacity and capability by leverage the technology, resources, expertise and networks of these valuable partners across the continuum of our accounting effort.”
The week-long summit included discussions between NMAG, Australia’s Unresolved War Casualties (UWC)-Army and UWC- Air Force, and DPAA, government and non-government partners engaged in conversations on how to increase and improve search and recovery efforts in Papua New Guinea’s challenging terrain. Brannen said the network of external partners discussed how to support DPAA operations and case progression to provide the fullest possible accounting to the U.S. government and the families of the missing.
“It’s a privilege to be invited to the summit,” said Royal Australian Air Force Reserve Wing Commander Grant Kelly, wing commander for HWUC-AF. “It’s enabled us to meet some people we’ve known for a couple of years. We’ve identified some great opportunities for us to collaborate and advance both of our missions.”
DPAA relies heavily on the cooperative relationship it has with Papua New Guinea and other host nation partners within the Indo-Pacific to continue conducting humanitarian missions.
Banaji extended a special thanks on behalf of DPAA to the people and government officials of Papua New Guinea and the NMAG, whose combined efforts and dedication have enabled further progression in achieving the fullest possible accounting of World War II lost service members.
“We look forward to working closely with you, honoring our heroes and giving back [that] peace to our families,” said Moutu. “I think this is a mission that tries hard to bring closure to heroes that have given both courage and sacrifice in the tragedies of the war 80 years ago. The efforts of DPAA, just like their counterparts in Japan and Australia are basically committed around the same principles of recovering and returning fallen heroes back to their countries of origins.”
For further information on missing US Service Members please reference www.DPAA.mil for more information.