Progress in Vietnam

July 14, 2020 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 727 288 42 3 1,060[1]
Remaining Missing 1,246 285 48 7 1,586



Of the remaining 1,246 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) planned to conduct four Joint Field Activities (JFAs) this fiscal year in Vietnam.  The COVID-19 (corona virus) pandemic has forced the cancellation of one DPAA-led JFA, but, in its place, an all-Vietnamese team will execute the 139th field activity.  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 138th JFA began February 14 and continued through April 1, 2020.  Recovery teams excavated sites in Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, and Quang Ninh Provinces; investigation worked in various provinces throughout the country.
  • The 139th field activity began May 5 and continued through June 23, 2020.  Three all-Vietnamese recovery teams  excavated sites in Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa, and Quang Binh Provinces; Vietnamese investigation teams worked throughout the country.  This was the first all-Vietnam field activity.

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 177, with 19 still unresolved.
  • Of the 177 whose deaths have been confirmed, the remains of 51 have been located and identified; efforts continue to recover the remaining 126.
  • U.S. and Vietnamese specialists met in Hanoi last 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 1,246 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.

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