Progress in Vietnam

Feb. 15, 2019 PRINT | E-MAIL

Current Status of Unaccounted-for Americans Lost in the Vietnam War

Vietnam Laos Cambodia China Total
Original Missing 1,973 573 90 10 2,646
Repatriated and Identified 726 285 42 3 1,056[1]
Remaining Missing 1,247 288 48 7 1,590


Of the remaining 1,247 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam, 470 are in a “non-recoverable” category.  This means that as a result of rigorous investigation, we have conclusive evidence the individual perished, but do not believe it possible to recover his remains.  On rare occasions, new leads can arise that bring a case back to an active status.

Field Operations

  • The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) plans to conduct four Joint Field Activities (JFAs) this fiscal year in Vietnam.  Each JFA involves approximately 95 U.S. personnel plus their Vietnamese counterparts.  Together, they work on investigations and excavations throughout the country for a period of approximately 30 days per JFA.
  • Recovered remains believed to be those of Americans are transferred to DPAA’s laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis and identification by forensic anthropologists.
  • The 133rd JFA began October 26 and continued through December 11, 2018.  Recovery teams worked sites in Dak Lak, Quang Binh, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, and Nghe An and Tay Ninh Provinces, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
  • The 134th JFA is scheduled to begin February 16 and continue through April 2, 2019.  Recovery teams plan to work sites in Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue, Nghe An, and Quang Tri Provinces; investigative teams plan to work in various provinces and cities throughout the country.

Resolving “Last Known Alive” Cases

  • Of the original 196 individuals “Last Known Alive” in Vietnam (those who survived or may have survived their loss incident and were either alive on the ground, in captivity, or in immediate proximity to capture, but did not return), DoD has confirmed the death of 176, with 20 still unresolved.
  • Of the 176 whose deaths have been confirmed, the remains of 51 have been located and identified; efforts continue to recover the remaining 125.
  • U.S. and Vietnamese specialists plan to meet in Hanoi later this year to discuss Last Known Alive cases in Vietnam, as well as in Cambodia and Laos.

Research and Investigations

  • U.S. POW/MIA investigators rotate into Hanoi on a continuous basis to pursue leads associated with the remaining 1,247 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam.
  • A research effort continues in the Ministry of National Defense (MND) central archives.  Since May 2012, Vietnam has turned over policy, strategic, and tactical level archival documents regarding unaccounted for Americans.
  • In addition to the interviews conducted during JFAs, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators have conducted nearly 300 oral history interviews of former and current Vietnamese government and military officials.  This program is ongoing.
  • Since Vietnamese troops occupied large portions of Cambodia and Laos where Americans went missing during the War, the U.S. asks Vietnamese veterans and civilians to cooperate in our operations in the two countries.  Vietnamese veterans have actively supported DPAA investigation and recovery operations in both Cambodia and Laos; many of these veterans have participated more than once.

1This number now includes the 63 Americans who were returned and/or identified from 1973 – 1975.
< Back to Fact Sheets