The 80-minute ride each day to the site in Lang Son Province, Vietnam, through mostly unspoiled forestland and fields, reminded Air Force Master Sgt. Aliah Reyes a little of her hometown back in Maine.
The Eliot native recently returned from a 45-day mission to the Southeast Asian country, where she was part of a team conducting a search for a Vietnam War service member who went missing more than 45 years ago and is presumed dead.
Reyes, 38, enlisted in the Air Force out of high school and has spent more than half her life in military service. But she had never been a part of anything like this.
“I don’t know if this would have come in my direction. It was something I actually sought out and volunteered for on my own,” she said last week during a telephone interview from Hawaii, where she is stationed.
The little-known Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts similar missions all the time as part of its charge to find the remains of approximately 34,000 missing Americans who might be recoverable from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Another 41,000 are presumed missing or lost at sea.
“It’s amazing how many Americans don’t know and/or realize that (the Defense Department) is still searching for missing Americans across the globe from past conflicts dating back to World War II,” said Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman, public affairs officer for the accounting agency.
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