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Pennsylvania's POW/MIAs

Dedicated to those who remain unaccounted from the Korean War and the Vietnam War

Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Natio

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It is widely known that recovery and/or repatriation efforts have been on-going around the world for quite some time now. Remains of our heroes from World War II surface around the globe several times a year and the U.S. has been working with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia since the mid-to-late 1980's. In 1999, the U.S. began talking with North Korea about efforts to recover the remains of American soldiers from the Korean war. Why, I ask, did they begin in 1999 (46 years after war's end)? Why not at the end of the Cold War...or in 1954 for that matter?

It is quite unfortunate that, during the December meetings, the North Korean Government felt it necessary to use our Heroes and loved ones as bargaining tools for receiving future aid from the United States. United States policy has, for years, been that it would not pay for the remains of its own soldiers. On February 4th, North Korea agreed to rejoin the U.S. at the table in light of supposed recent findings (an unconfirmed 405 - 415 American remains). Will this begin a new attempt in extortion? {See sidebar for updated information pertaining to this subject}

The circumstances surrounding the 'remains-for-aid' demands of the North Koreans are reminiscent of the tragedies that fell upon our POW/MIAs at the end of the Vietnam War. During the negotiations that led to the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the U.S. and North Vietnam were working out various issues, to include the release of our POWs. One of the mistakes that the U.S. Government made had been accepting and acknowledging a list of POWs provided by the North Vietnamese (believe it or not, this happened after the end of the Korean War as well) -- when in fact our intelligence reports indicated that the numbers listed were extremely shallow, -- our reports indicated a much larger number of POWs.

According to a 1992 issue of U.S. News & World Report {Sept 28, 1992 v113 n12 p36(3)} Lawrence Eagleberger, who was the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Nixon Administration, held in his possession an estimate by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). That estimate showed that at least "350 Americans" remained unaccounted for in Laos. On March 29, 1973, Eagleberger forwarded this estimate to the White House along with his recommendation for several diplomatic and military alternatives to gain their release; this was just one day prior to Nixon's famous statement declaring that all Americans held prisoner in Southeast Asia were free. At the same time, Henry Kissinger -- the man responsible for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords on behalf of Pres. Nixon, held in his possession a Department of Defense list of 80 servicemen who remained unaccounted for in Laos. Although the figures were of POWs in Laos, and not Vietnam, it just goes to show that their were more men there than Vietnam was willing to account for.

Moreover, according to the same article listed above, Nixon had, on March 20, 1973, been advised of North Vietnam's failure to account for 10 American [and Canadian] prisoners -- prisoners that had been confirmed by Department of Defense as "being under Viet Cong control". The article further states that Nixon had ordered the withdrawal of American troops to be stopped and that North Vietnam "promptly accounted for the 10 prisoners." It is in my mind, as well as the author of the article, that had the withdrawal remained in postponement, more prisoners may very well have been accounted for!

Addendum

In December, 1999, the U.S. and North Korea met in Germany to build an agenda for the Y2K joint-recovery operations.  The talks broke down when North Korea demanded that the U.S. provide money as part of the negotiations for remains recovery; again, U.S. policy is such that we 'will not' pay for the remains of our soldiers, etc... 

In February 2000, North Korea contacted the U.S. Government and several veterans organizations; claiming that they held around 415 sets of remains.  According to an article written by DPMO (found at their website), they [DPMO] started making inquiries into the claim and than North Korea admitted to only having one or two remains in their possession; and they estimate that around 400 more might be located in the same vacinity.

A message from the Coalition of Families (msg: Assessment by the Korea-Cold War POW/MIA Coalition of Families dated Feb 2, 2000) suggests that this area is in the Unsan area of North Korea.

Moreover, according to the DPMO weekly update, U.S. officials had previously known about the number of remains that might be found at this location; and had informed North Korea of this during talks over two years ago.

I will finish this shortly; I am waiting for DPMO to answer some questions for me.

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