By AFCLC Outreach Team, AFCLC
/ Published August 19, 2021
U.S. service members with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency excavate a unit during a DPAA mission to recover fallen service members from the Vietnam War. The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and to the nation. (DPAA photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Demetrius Munnerlyn)
LEAP Scholar Capt. Panupong Phongpitakvises provided Lao language support to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency recovery/excavation mission in Laos. According to DPAA, the remains of more than 1,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors since 1973.
“This mission was one of the most rewarding in the hopes of recovering the remains of MIAs. I liked the mission itself because I could help connect the relationship with two countries and make sure there was no missing communication. The mission affected me in many ways because I knew I was working for a bigger cause by helping a family [bring home a loved one]. There are a lot more MIAs out there,” Phongpitakvises said.
For more than two decades, the U.S. has conducted joint field activities with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover the remains of missing Americans. Throughout these countries, field teams continue to investigate crash and burial sites as well as interview locals to gain additional knowledge. The U.S. also continues to obtain access to historical wartime records and archives that provide information relevant to the fates of missing Americans.” In Laos, there are still 285 Americans unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
For more information on DPAA, visit www.DPPA.mil.
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