[Vision2020] List of troops missing since WWII still tops 83,000

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sun Sep 13 16:56:25 PDT 2015

Instead of developing excuses to go to war . . . perhaps our money, time, and effort would be better spent finding those who remain unaccounted for.


Right, Sergeant Pengy?


Courtesy of today's (September 13, 2015) Stars and Stripes at:


List of troops missing since WWII still tops 83,000
NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) -- They still weep.

Even after all these years. For their men who vanished in war -- fathers, sons, brothers, husbands whose remains were never found. For the shadows that have haunted their families. And the vigils that won't end until there's no one left alive who remembers and still hurts.

Time is not on your side, Jack Kull reminded those who came to the Norfolk Waterside Marriott on Saturday for an update from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

That's the government department responsible for determining the fate of America's missing service members once hostilities end and for recovering remains where possible.

More than 83,000 are unaccounted for from World War II to the latest conflicts.

The update, one of a half-dozen held annually around the country -- the first in Hampton Roads since 1996 -- drew 150 or so people from within a 350-mile radius. They sat at tables in a banquet room, their seats bearing place cards with the names of their fallen.

Kull, a policy advisor with the agency and one of about 50 specialists on hand, tried to blend realism with optimism.

While the magnitude of the task is enormous, he said, it's more than a job to those who search: "It's a mission, a commitment, a promise that we will do everything humanly possible to bring your loved ones home."

But every passing year lowers the odds. Age steals eyewitnesses from World War II and fades documents.

Politics keep recovery teams out of North Korea. In Vietnam, acidic soil eats at remains in rugged regions that are hard to reach.

"When we find something there," Kull said, "it's often just a handful."

Roughly 75 percent of the missing were lost somewhere in the Pacific, most in deep water. No one is getting those family members back, Kull said. Around 26,000 others are considered "pursuable -- cases where we have something we can work with. Where there's a chance."

Kerry Beasley, a 43-year-old Navy nurse from Chesapeake, was only 5 months old when her father's F-4D Phantom crashed in a remote valley in Vietnam. Air Force Maj. Wayne G. Brown II, the backseater, ejected along with the pilot.

Afterward, Brown was heard over a radio, saying he was injured and unable to move his legs. Shots crackled across the area. Rescuers couldn't reach him. Brown was never found.

"I don't know what my mom and my grandmother were like before that, but I know they didn't do so well after," Beasley said. "It was always there, always a trigger that would set them off emotionally."

Like everyone at the conference, Beasley came to hear the latest -- how many missions are planned for next year, where diplomatic relations might be thawing, what advances in technology, DNA science or forensic dentistry might help find and identify enough remains to lay to rest.

Teams have hunted for Beasley's father and came up empty-handed. She's still holding on to her mother's ashes, uncertain where to bury them.

"My mother never remarried," Beasley said. "She wanted to be buried with my father."

Beasley has considered taking the ashes to Vietnam to scatter them as close as possible to the place where her dad was last known to be alive. But what if his remains are found and brought back?

"It's hard to know what to do," she said.

More than anything, Beasley just wants the uncertainty -- the waiting -- to end with her. She doesn't want her son or daughter -- now 15 and 12 -- to have to take over her watch.

"This is something you have to keep an eye out for," she said. "As long as there's a descendant they can track, you never know when you'll get that call. I just hope it comes in my lifetime. So I can tell my kids a simpler story: 'This is what your grandfather did and what he went through, but isn't it great to live in a country that doesn't forget its service members?' "

Beasley looked around the banquet room. Listened to the stories survivors were sharing. Heard voices still choked with emotion.

"It never goes away," she said.

There is hope. Since the agency last came to Norfolk nearly 20 years ago, the remains of 1,473 once-missing service members have been sent home.


In the words of Bruce Springsteen . . . Wherever this flag's flown . . .

"We Take Care of Our Own"

"I been knocking on the door that holds the throne
I been looking for the map that leads me home
I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans
From the muscle to the bone
From the shotgun shack to the Superdome
There ain’t no help, the cavalry stayed home
There ain’t no one hearing the bugle blowin’
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

Where’re the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where’re the hearts that run over with mercy
Where’s the love that has not forsaken me
Where’s the work that’ll set my hands, my soul free
Where’s the spirit that’ll reign over me
Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea
Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own"

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares"
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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