Government officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) met with more than 300 family members of servicemen who went missing during past conflicts at the Korean/Cold War annual briefings Aug. 13-14, 2015, in Washington, D.C. At this meeting, representatives from the U.S. government’s personnel accounting community briefed family members on the government’s efforts to account for their loved ones, to include briefings on government policy, remains recovery operations and methods of identifying remains.
As family members stood to tell their stories during the morning remembrance ceremony, it was clear that whether it was a wife, grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew, or even a son or daughter, each had similar memories to share. Losing a family member is always difficult, and some families wait years for closure.
Mary McClung, the daughter of Marine Corps Master Sgt. William J. McClung III, who was also a World War II veteran, stated that the Korean/Cold War annual meeting gives families a place to get information and share a common bond.
“When I lost my father I was three years old,” said Mary McClung. “It has been difficult to grow up without a father, but luckily my mother was great. She remarried a great man, and I had family surrounding me.”
Family members, like McClung, gain knowledge about their lost loved ones and are provided the opportunity to discuss their specific cases with analysts.
McClung stated that she was very curious about her father’s loss and began to attend government briefings as an adult to obtain detailed information surrounding his case.
Today, more than 7,900 service members are still missing from the Korean and Cold Wars. Many families of these service members attend these annual briefings each year in hopes of receiving additional information about their lost loved ones and what the government is doing to bring them home.
As the meeting continued, Mr. Michael Linnington, who recently has been appointed the first Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, conveyed his remarks.
“This is the most important mission I have had in 35 years,” said Mr. Linnington. “This is about families and providing information to families.”
The accounting community conducts six to eight briefings a year throughout the U.S. and the meetings are designed to provide updated information to family members on their missing loved ones’ cases.
McClung has been attending this briefing for the past 13 years, she stated.
Since 1995, DPAA and the personnel accounting community partners have briefed more than 26,000 family members, just like McClung, on the U.S. government’s effort to account for their lost loved ones.
“I don’t know if they will ever find him, but I sure hope so,” said McClung.