National League of POW/MIA Families
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AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  Since November, there have been no announced changes to the list of US personnel still missing from the Vietnam War; however, the following three Americans were announced as identified since the League’s 46th Annual Meeting in June of last year:
Major Dale W. Richardson, USAF, MIA, CB 5/2/70, RR 4/3/14, ID 1/27/15
SSGT Kenneth L. Cunningham, USA, MIA, SVN 10/3/69, RR 3/11/97, ID 11/13/15
SFC Billy D. Hill, USA, MIA, SVN 1/21/68, RR 6/22/89, ID 11/12/15
The number listed as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War is still 1,624.  Americans listed by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 number 961.  Adding the 63 US personnel recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war brings the total of Americans accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,024. Of the 1,624 still missing and unaccounted-for, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,266 (VN-467, VS-799); Laos-302; Cambodia-49; PRC territorial waters-7. 


LEAGUE CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE ENTERING 2016:  First, I want to wish each of you a New Year that is richly blessed with good health, happiness, prosperity and, for those of you still seeking answers, an end to your uncertainty.

Secondly, I want to apologize for my inability to sustain regular reporting through the League Newsletter.  I deeply regret that events and circumstances have precluded my having time to devote to writing anything more than the electronic updates distributed widely, posted on the League’s web site (, Facebook page and Twitter, but not sent to your homes as they have been at least four times each year for decades.  I take full responsibility for failing to communicate more often though, admittedly, I could have chosen to report more regularly and omit closely monitoring events that were transpiring.  For me, that meant no choice at all.

Challenges related to pursuing our shared accounting mission have multiplied beyond my wildest imagination.  The pace and scope of changes within the US Department of Defense, as well as foreign governments with which we deal, are astronomical and demanding.  Being in the forefront of efforts for almost 40 years gives me a solid foundation on which to form this view.  You deserve to know at this mid-point between the League’s annual meetings just what is taking place and what I think is reasonable to expect as we move through 2016.  With that apology and clarification as background, please consider the following as my semi-annual report to all League members and friends, in and out of government, veterans and concerned citizens. 
The League’s formation in May, 1970, started a movement that has grown far beyond the original intention.  When formed, our single, three-fold objective was to achieve the release of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for the MIAs, and the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our country during the Vietnam War.  While this definition still represents the League objectives, the reality is that the accounting mission now encompasses all past wars and dramatically impacts today’s Armed Forces.  Our quest for answers has changed America. 
Our POW/MIA flag is known nationally and internationally as representing America’s determination to account for those who serve our country and are captured, become missing or are killed while serving and their remains can’t be recovered at or near the time of loss.   No longer is the scope limited to the relatively small number still missing from the Vietnam War.  It now encompasses efforts to recover the remains of tens of thousands who lost their lives in all wars and conflicts back to and including WWII.  Recovery of those known to have died and been buried as “unknowns” in foreign countries and US cemeteries around the world is also an assigned task. 
Thousands of the WWII unaccounted-for are known to have gone down in ships with hundreds on board in the middle of the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.  Clearly, the families who lost loved ones in such wartime tragedies roughly 70 years ago are not living with uncertainty concerning their loved ones’ fates. Most such incidents were accepted as burials at sea, and their families suffered the loss, knowing that their loved ones died serving the cause of worldwide freedom in a war for the future of humanity in which all Americans participated and sacrificed.  There was clear-cut victory at the end of WWII with no ambiguity such as the truce that halted, rather than ended, the Korean War. 
Added to the WWII expansion is the challenge of accounting for over 7,000 Americans reportedly killed during the Korean War whose remains were not recovered, plus nearly 400 US personnel who were known to be POWs in camps then under PRC control.  Put together, you begin to see the monumental task now facing our recently formed Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).  Not only is the challenge enormous, it is completely unrealistic unless and until policy decisions – now under consideration – are made to bring greater realism to the mission, as Congress has demanded.
Horrendous as it is that the remains of thousands of Americans are unrecovered from North Korea, most egregious is the fact that known captured US personnel have yet to be accounted for after roughly 60 years, though efforts were made during the 1980s and 1990s.  That task is definitely on DPAA’s agenda, difficult as are the national security and political circumstances to be overcome.   And that is precisely where we are as we enter 2016.

REPATRIATIONS OF REMAINS:   On December 10th, remains that could be those of two US personnel missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, recovered during joint field operations in Laos were honored at a repatriation ceremony, attended by US Ambassador Dan Clune.  On December 12th, remains believed to be those of four US personnel, also missing and unaccounted-for since the Vietnam War, were honored in a repatriation ceremony at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.  Some were turned over by civilian Vietnamese and others were recovered during field recovery operations in Vietnam.  The four remains were reviewed by Vietnamese and American forensic specialists who determined the potential for identification.  US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius was joined by specialists from DPAA’s Detachment 2 and the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) in honoring those repatriated.  In remarks, Ambassador Osius reportedly expressed gratitude for the goodwill and increasingly efficient and effective cooperation being afforded by the Government of Vietnam.  The League extends sincere appreciation to all – American, Lao and Vietnamese – for the policy and operational support and/or participation which contributed to these repatriations and looks forward to further expanding the level of effort to increase accounting results.

VIETNAM’S GENERAL SECRETARY VISITS WHITE HOUSE:  Unbelievable as it may seem to most in the Vietnam War generation, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong held discussions with President Obama at the White House on July 7th.  The General Secretary was accompanied to Washington by very senior officials, including Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Vice Minister of National Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of Public Security To Lam, and other senior Vietnamese officials with whom the League has met for years. The agenda during the General Secretary’s visit was extremely busy and included a luncheon at the State Department, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden, and a buffet dinner reception in the General Secretary’s honor, hosted by Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh.  League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths attended both events and spoke briefly with the General Secretary. 

COMMEMORATING BILATERAL RELATIONS & INDEPENDENCE On July 30th, Ambassador Vinh also hosted a reception at the beautiful US Institute for Peace to commemorate the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam. Also celebrated was the 70th anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day and, not individually celebrated, but certainly noteworthy, was the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.   Seldom referenced, but significant for the accounting mission, 2015 was also the 30th anniversary of the first US-SRV joint recovery effort in northern Vietnam.

SRV VICE MINISTER MEETS WITH LEAGUE & VSO LEADERS:  Vietnam’s Vice Minister of National Defense Senior LTG Nguyen Chi Vinh met September 30th with League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths and senior American veteran leaders.  At the League’s request, participants included Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Executive Director Bob Wallace, The American Legion’s National Security Commission Chairman Michael Schlee and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Executive Director for Government Relations Rick Weidman.  We were assured there are no longer areas restricted to US specialists nor obstacles to impede expansion of the accounting effort, including use of US Navy assets. 
Vice Minister Vinh was in Washington, DC, for the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD) at the Pentagon, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia Pacific Security Affairs David Shear.  In keeping with increased military-to-military relations, the BDD meets twice each year for comprehensive bilateral discussions on issues of mutual interest.  DPAA Director Mike Linnington participates in the important BDD sessions. 

PROSPECTS FOR ACCOUNTING SUCCESS:  Vice Minister Vinh also had important meetings with members of the US Senate and House, with various officials in the Commerce and State Departments, Office of the US Trade Representative, and a session with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. These meetings all followed the significant, and historically symbolic, visit of the General Secretary, referenced above.  Bilateral US-Vietnam relations have vastly expanded and continue to grow, all to the advantage of increasing POW/MIA accounting cooperation, now at an all-time high.  Accounting efforts will expand further if the US succeeds in sustaining the Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) budget and the level of personnel needed to meet requirements; FY17 and FY18 increases will be needed to maximize efforts to obtain answers before it is too late. 
In mid-November, Mr. Linnington completed his first trip to the three key Vietnam War countries.  He first briefly visited Cambodia, then made official calls in Vientiane, Laos, and flew by helicopter to visit US-Lao personnel conducting field operations.  He returned to Vientiane before going on to Hanoi to meet with senior officials there. Significant discussions were held with anticipated interlocutors, including Vice Minister of National Defense (MND) Senior LTG Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of Public Security (MPS) To Lam, as well as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) Ambassador Nguyen Ba Long, assigned for his third term in this key position.  Mr. Linnington also met with Vietnamese scientists and visited joint US-SRV teams conducting field operations in Vietnam before flying back to the US. 
On December 5th, the DPAA Director briefed the League Board of Directors on this important, introductory visit, and we are hopeful that this initial dialogue will deepen and lead to more comprehensive unilateral and joint efforts with an increasingly cooperative Vietnam.   Regarding Laos, there is also reason to hope for increased flexibility and cooperation now that Laos has assumed Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  On January 25th, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Laos in anticipation of a US-ASEAN summit in mid-February, co-chaired by President Obama and his Lao counterpart at Sunnylands (the old Annenberg Estate) in Palm Springs, CA.  In the fall, President Obama is due to be the first US President to visit Laos since the LPDR was formed in 1975.    
During a quick visit to the region earlier this month, DPAA Deputy Director BG Mark Spindler, USA, and DC-based Principal Staff Director Fern Sumpter Winbush visited US-Lao and US-Cambodian specialists conducting field operations in both countries. 

CHAIRMAN’S OBSERVATIONS:  DPAA Director Linnington, supported by his Deputy and Principal Staff Director, appears to be moving in the right direction to meet expectations, including increasing the number of identifications to reach the Congressionally-mandated goal of 200 per year.  The expressed intent is to increase WWII recovery and identification efforts by contracting private sector specialists to augment DPAA’s in-house ability to field archival research, investigation and recovery teams, while adding to DPAA’s qualified scientific staff to increase identification. 
This is especially important due to a key decision made by the Deputy Secretary of Defense to clarify DoD’s policy on disinterring American Unknowns from cemeteries around the world.  Disinterring these “unknowns” and identifying them will aid in reaching the higher numbers expected by Congress without impeding field operations, in particular those related to the Vietnam War. 
Now that Vietnam has pledged there are no longer any sites restricted to joint team access, the pace of joint field recoveries and investigations related to Vietnam War missing has recently resumed at a higher level.  Evidence is mounting that Vietnam War accounting will be the core focus of the accounting mission going forward, precisely as DPAA Director Linnington pledged at the 46th Annual Meeting last June.  Since the first of Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), DPAA has fielded 8 teams in Vietnam (1-Investigation Team [IT], 1 Research Investigation Team [RIT], 5 Recovery Teams [RT], and 1 Vietnamese Recovery Team [VRT]), 7 teams in Laos (1 IT, 6 RTs) and 1 RT in Cambodia.  There is every reason to hope this promise will come to fruition. 
Since 2009, the Vietnamese have consistently raised the need for increasing the pace and scope of such operations.  More recently, they have also urged expansion of the number of teams and engaging them earlier than FY17, if possible.  It is crucial that there be no reduction in DPAA’s budget or the number of personnel to enable overdue responsiveness to Vietnam’s longstanding requests.  Now is not the time, as occurred earlier due to budget constraints and sequestration, to pull back on fielding teams to accomplish the Vietnam War accounting.  It is the League’s hope that the current trend of moving ahead to increase the pace and scope will be sustained.  The Vietnam War POW/MIA accounting mission is running out of time.  That is our reality.
GENERAL FOGLESONG VISITS MOSCOW:  US Chairman of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs (USRJC) General Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret) traveled to Moscow to meet on November 9th with the Russian Co-Chairman, General Colonel Valery Aleksandrovich Vostrotin.  The two Co-Chairs outlined their hope for renewing and restoring the work of the USRJC and noted the importance of the new Russian Office of the USRJC located in the Embassy of the Russian Federation.  This important office was opened in July of last year and is headed by Maxim N. Alekseev, an impressive Russian official with a diverse background and record of experience.  The League welcomes the new initiative and looks forward to working with Mr. Alekseev and senior Russian officials in Moscow.  It is time to press ahead and get beyond the seemingly endless delays.
DPAA DIRECTOR VISITING MOSCOW:   Following coordination with General Foglesong, and with interagency approval, Mr. Linnington traveled to Moscow February 8th to meet with Russian Co-Chairman General Colonel Vostrotin.  The focus was to propose the agenda and date for a USRJC Plenary Session later this year in Washington, DC.  There is great hope of renewing and restoring the work of the Joint Commission, especially since the Russian Federation named its new Chairman and opened its new office in Washington, DC.  Recognizing it was past time to get beyond the endless delays that have plagued work of the USRJC, the League welcomes and appreciates these new initiatives by leaders in both countries and looks forward to increased efforts and accounting results. Director Linnington also plans to visit several European countries and senior US officials in the region who will be contributing to the effort to conduct WWII recoveries. 

DPAA DIRECTOR MOVING FORWARD!  Since being named and sworn in as the first civilian DPAA Director, just before the League’s 46th Annual Meeting last June, Army LTG (Ret) Mike Linnington has made quite an impact.  Initially, he praised last year’s meeting as positive and valuable for him and the families since it featured speakers addressing a sophisticated audience with 40+ years of experience.  (At least this year, we won’t have to endure the disaster on the families and DPMO employees of the government attempting to take over the League’s annual meeting.)  While always cautious not to overstate support for anyone named to a position of responsibility in the POW/MIA accounting mission, it is no overstatement to recognize Mr. Linnington’s outstanding, varied background. 
Important now are the several steps he has taken that reveal he is moving energetically to follow the directive issued by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to “completely reorganize” the POW/MIA accounting community.  Recognizing that structural change is always rife with turmoil and uncertainty, Mr. Linnington inherited reorganizational plans proposed by an interim leadership no longer involved; thus structural changes are still evolving. 
Dramatic changes are being made and, reportedly, are focused on adhering to Secretary Hagel’s directive to “build on the existing strengths” of the accounting process. As a result, the Director seems to be moving toward a complex structure geared to meet longstanding expectations.  Thus far, transparency has been less than pledged, but the League will continue to be cautiously optimistic and work openly with DPAA, knowing the desired goal.  
Detachments 1, 2 and 3 will be retained in Bangkok, Thailand, Hanoi, Vietnam and Vientiane, Laos, reporting to new DPAA Deputy Director BG Mark Spindler, USA, who replaced Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF, former JPAC Commander, and DPAA Deputy Commander from January of last year until his departure in August.  General McKeague’s honor, integrity and genuine commitment to the mission are sorely missed; BG Spindler’s seriousness in approach is applauded.  The League is thankful that long-serving civilian specialists in all three Detachments, widely recognized as indispensable, are being extended in their positions and will continue to serve, thanks to Director Linnington’s intervention.
The Asia Pacific Regional Director is Col Mike Gann, USMC, responsible for all operations in the Asia Pacific area, including the Vietnam War, Korean War and most recoverable WWII losses.  Roughly 90% of all unaccounted for US personnel worldwide were lost in the Asia Pacific region.  DPAA will retain its small Liaison Office to support operations in Europe, now under the supervision of Europe Mediterranean Regional Director COL Christopher Forbes, USA. The Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) is included in the Europe Mediterranean Region.  Due to requirements to support the USRJC on POW/MIA Affairs, with its presidentially named Chairman, General Foglesong, JCSD has a unique, dual-hatted status. 
There is also a very high priority being placed on the success of the Strategic Partnership Initiative, headed by Dr. Tom Holland, well known to the Vietnam War families.  DPAA is looking at the broad areas in which potential partnerships (public/private, public/public, tripartite, etc.) could be formed as a means to augment official assets and resources that have focused primarily on Vietnam War accounting over the years.  Strategic partnerships can and likely will offer significant opportunities to expand overall accounting efforts and produce results more rapidly.  Areas under consideration include applying volunteer and paid contractor support for archival research, investigations and recoveries pertaining mostly to WWII, Korean War (disinterment and IDs) and Cold War loss incidents.  In the future, DNA comparisons, now done exclusively by AFDIL, could also be expanded by retaining the assistance of private DNA laboratories, if needed. 
There was an internal DPAA leadership symposium July 28-30th to provide an opportunity for DPAA leaders, including interim-appointed Directors and Deputies, to utilize the evolving restructure as the basis for helping to determine a viable sub-structure, moving tasks and numbers of personnel as required, but getting nearer to final structure.  Final decisions have now been made, but Mr. Linnington stated that all personnel are not expected to be in place until June of this year, perhaps even later.  Reportedly, there will also be in-process reviews, assessments and adjustments as implementation occurs.  Importantly, Director Linnington also pledged that the process will be fully transparent. 
In November, recently retired Army COL Fern Sumpter Winbush was introduced as the Principal Staff Director.  She has responsibility for managing and administering DPAA-East (as it is called) which will include several directorates:  Policy & Plans, Outreach & Communications (including families, veterans and legislative aspects), Strategic Partnerships and most administrative and budgetary functions.  Mrs. Sumpter Winbush comes with an impressive resumé.
On January 8th, Full Operational Capability (FOC) was announced as achieved, though the public announcement cautioned that it will be months before all hiring actions are complete and some high priority objectives are fully operational. Chief among high priorities is the case management system, designed to improve efficiency to workflows and communicate case information to the families.  The development has begun, but it is expected to take several months for completion. 

NEW DPAA FACILITY OPENS:  A “Blessing & Dedication Ceremony” on July 27th officially opened the new Senator Daniel K. Inouye Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Center of Excellence.    League Chairman of the Board Ann Mills-Griffiths represented the POW/MIA families by helping to cut the traditional lei.  Following the formal raising and posting of the permanently-lighted US, POW/MIA and State of Hawaii flags, and the Navy Chaplain’s invocation, Director Linnington spoke briefly and the late Senator Inouye’s long-time Chief of Staff, Jennifer Sabas, provided an inspirational keynote address.  Prayers and blessings by a native Hawaiian clergyman concluded with the PACOM Band playing the Military Service Songs, after which a reception was held in the front foyer of the new, incredible DPAA-West Headquarters.
The League extends special appreciation to long-time civilian Johnie Webb for his roughly 14 years of dedicated effort, fully supported by the League, to shepherd the new facility’s preliminary design, countless re-designs and approvals, through to completion.  Mr. Webb is a retired Army LTC, former Commander of the Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii (CILHI), previously Deputy to the JPAC Commander, and currently serves as DPAA’s Interim Deputy Director of the Outreach & Communications Directorate, previously known as External Communications.  

CHAIRMAN’S ASSESSMENT ON THE REORGANIZATION:  The League’s vision is for DPAA to develop and carry out a viable process to more effectively and efficiently pursue increased accounting objectives for missing US personnel and their families.  From January – June of last year, Mike Linnington and I talked many times in his advisory role to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth about the “complete reorganization” of the entire community.  Mr. Linnington knows he has a very challenging road ahead to earn the trust of a dedicated, talented civilian workforce, as well as add the kind of people he is seeking and can depend on to move DPAA forward.  He is moving forward and learning far more than one would expect after such a short time on the job (six months).   
At the League’s 46th Annual Meeting, Mr. Linnington pledged he is in for the long haul and knows it will take time, but asked for support, assistance and patience as he tackles the challenges.  I’m confident that Mike Linnington IS the right leader, and this IS the right time.  These are the best circumstances we, the POW/MIA families, have seen since 1992 to obtain answers we have worked to achieve since the League was formed in 1970.   
I attended LTG Linnington’s retirement on June 17th and can personally attest to the esteem in which he is held by a broad cross-section of military and civilian personnel.  From the lowest ranking to the highest, all seem to genuinely like, respect and admire him.  It is my hope, prayer and expectation that he will work to achieve the objectives we share, and do so with honor, integrity, humility, dedication, energy, genuine caring and determination.  That is all we can ask.  All we should expect is his very best effort, and we do! 
In my judgment, right now IS the accounting mission's last real chance to move forward with the priority needed, fully supported by State and DoD policy and resourced with funding and personnel required.  If this ongoing effort does not succeed, I envision no future such opportunities, precisely the reason we must ensure that DPAA Director Mike Linnington gets all the support and assistance he needs from honest, caring, determined, knowledgeable people in the accounting community.  He will also need our prayers, our full support and the loyalty and confidence of all POW/MIA-related personnel, especially the former JPAC, DPMO and LSEL workforce now adjusting to being part of our new DPAA.  Based on shared experience and knowledge, they, too, must focus on what is now possible with this new agency and its leadership. 
The League is grateful to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth for selecting Mr. Linnington.  He is self-confident, but not afraid to ask questions, and appears unafraid to be seen as learning.  The accounting mission is complex, there is much to learn and dangers persist.  Many – in and out of government – are trying in every way possible to help him gain solid, objective insights.  
Over the years, the League has participated in, endured and survived many US Government reorganizations, changes, commissions, internal and external investigations and select committees.  Some have been positive, some negative, all challenging.  When a failure occurs, it is usually not from malevolence.  Most shortcomings have been the result of newly assigned personnel put into positions of responsibility who cannot be expected to have detailed knowledge of the mission and its history.  Then, errors occur, the wheel gets reinvented and, eventually, stabilization returns, but not necessarily with the considered renovation that brings increased progress.  Much of this turbulence is unnecessary. The League is uniquely positioned to help the new agency with the history and minimize disruption, confusion and dysfunction; so are some of the “old hands” who have demonstrated commitment and determination within the government.  We hope all in DPAA will come to interact comfortably with the “old timers” still in government, those now retired, and the League as sources of knowledge and experience sharing the same objectives. 
DPAA truly can become the central accounting force we all have sorely missed since 1992 – with cohesive, interagency US Government priority that will, with the support of all, achieve the fullest possible accounting.  This longstanding, entirely reasonable League objective is defined as 1) the missing man returned alive; or 2) his remains recovered and identified; or 3) convincing evidence as to why neither is possible, in which case all information that relates or may relate will be provided to the next-of-kin.  Though remains will never be recovered, his family and friends will have peace of mind in knowing the US Government did its very best to bring him home to them and to our Nation.
SEPTEMBER 18TH WAS NATIONAL POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY:  The national ceremony, always impressive due to troops marching in formation on the Pentagon parade field, was hosted by now former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, USA.  The principal speaker was Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter who stated in part, “....we continue to improve our personnel accounting program and find new ways to meet one of our oldest and most sacred obligations……. Just as the lessons we learned in our 20th century wars helped us improve how we have cared for the wounded, the fallen, and their families during our recent wars…we’re using 21st century methods to meet our commitments to those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War, and remain missing……We’re looking to expand our work and expand our partnerships……with private organizations and individuals….with academic and other foreign partners to help account for our missing…….We’re also harnessing new technology.  Investments and advances in forensic science will allow us to identify the previously unidentifiable remains of some of the fallen.  And we recently opened a state-of-the art facility in Hawaii to help us take advantage of these new methods.  And that’s why we’re using new communication channels to keep in touch with the families of the missing.”  The League appreciates Secretary Carter’s commitment to expand the accounting process utilizing the latest concepts, technologies and capabilities to expedite answers for the families, as we do the uncountable number of events, runs and ceremonies held nationwide and around the world in support of our accounting mission.

MORE GOOD NEWS:  DPAA Director Linnington made the decision to invite representatives of responsible national veteran organizations to attend and observe briefings given at DPAA-hosted POW/MIA Family Updates around the country.  The League deeply appreciates the return to including our veterans in these meetings. Since DPAA is stressing the importance of outreach and transparency, DPAA-hosted Updates provide an opportunity for both.

46TH ANNUAL MEETING:  The June 24-27th meeting was the largest, most comprehensive and compelling annual meeting in years. The Hilton sold out, responses from senior leaders were positive, and official animosity toward the League seems to have disappeared in favor of an attitude not seen since 1992.   Policy resolutions were adopted at the League Business Session, June 27, 2015, by a SENSE OF MEMBERS PRESENT, since a quorum could not be established.
1)  Resolved, that the National League of POW/MIA Families strongly favors increasing the number of forensic archeologists and anthropologists to participate in DPAA’s excavation and identification processes to meet the increased pace and scope of operations related to WWII and Korean War recoveries, with a goal of increasing accounting results.
2)  Resolved, that the National League of POW/MIA Families commends the Lao Government for its commitment to the League’s Delegation earlier this year to pursue a new archival initiative by expanding its research to locate and make available Lao archives, as well as work with the Vietnamese to ensure Lao documents that may have been moved years ago to Hanoi for safekeeping have been returned to Vientiane and made available to US specialists, and urges the Lao Government to move quickly to implement its commitment. 
3)  Resolved, that the National League of POW/MIA Families commends LTG Michael S. Linnington, USA (Ret), for his interest and for accepting the position of Director of the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), and commends Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth for selecting Mr. Linnington as the first Director. 
47th ANNUAL MEETING:  June 22-25, 2016, Hilton Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, Virginia:  Visit the League’s web site,, to get additional details, including a Registration Form.  This is a crucial year, the first opportunity to listen and assess the work of DPAA.  Join us!
As a keepsake, a Commemorative Program is designed and published each year.  You can honor your missing loved one, colleague or friend, convey congratulations to the League on the occasion of our 47th Annual Meeting, or advertise your business service.  If the latter, the donation is not tax-deductible, as you benefit in return.  
Arrival & Departure:  Plan to arrive on Wednesday, June 22nd, before 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. if first time attendee) to allow time to check into the Hilton and board buses for historic Ft. Myer and the Twilight Tattoo to be held that evening.  It is also recommended that you arrange departure for Sunday, June 26th, to enable you to participate fully throughout the meeting and maximize your time in the Washington, DC, area with access to US officials directly responsible for the accounting mission and to the historic sites in our nation’s capital.
Registration:  Registration will be held on Wednesday June 22nd, 3:00 – 9:00 p.m. and again for latecomers on Thursday, June 23rd, 7:30 – 8:45 a.m., after which all credentials will be secured. 
Badges:  All attendees, except uniformed military officials, must wear the visible, color-coded badge on the lanyard provided at registration for entrance into all League-hosted and Service-hosted events, including off-site events.  ANY alteration to a badge will result in revocation and denial of admittance.
White  –  League (voting) Family Members             Tan   –  League Associate Members 
Blue    –  Non-League Family Members                  Grey  –  Concerned Citizens
Green –   US Officials                                              Red   –  Media 
Yellow  –  Family Members attending only DoD briefings
Information & Press:  Located in the Virginia Ballroom Foyer, Plaza Level.  Direct inquiries to Communications Chairman Lacy Rourke ( or call Hilton Crystal City (703) 418-6800 and ask for the League Office.
DoD Offices:  Investigators and analysts will again be available in the Service Casualty Offices to support individual Case File Reviews with families.  All are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to share information with these specialists, preferably NOT in conflict with critical government briefings, the legal justification for DoD-provided transportation.  US officials will be present by noon on Wednesday, June 22nd.  All Service Casualty Offices are located on the 1st floor:  USA – Blue Ridge Room; USN/USMC/Civilian – Shenandoah Room; USAF – Skyline Room; and DPAA – Luray Room. 
Individual Case File Reviews will be held in these locations from noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 7:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday.   Please try to schedule reviews at times outside of sessions during which critical information is presented.  Instead, ask for early morning, lunch or dinner breaks.  
Newcomer Orientation:  Important information will be shared in the Patrick Henry Board Room, First Floor, on Wednesday, June 22nd, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  First-time attendees are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Twilight Tattoo: Thanks to the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration for again arranging transportation to the Ft. Myer Twilight Tattoo.  Buses will board at 5:30 p.m. for those credentialed.
The 47th Annual Dinner will be preceded by a no-host reception in the Virginia Ballroom Foyer on Thursday, June 23rd, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., with dinner beginning promptly at 7:00 p.m. in the Virginia Ballroom and concluding at 9:00 p.m.
Workshops:  Two specialized workshops will be held in the Richmond and Roanoke Rooms, Lobby Level, on Friday, June 24th, 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Service-Hosted Luncheons will be held Friday, June 24th, 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Virginia Ballroom, Plaza Level: USA – Washington Room; USN/USMC/Civilian – Adams Room; USAF – Madison Room.
Regional Meetings:  You are encouraged to attend your regional meeting to hear about and discuss efforts to raise awareness, meet League members from your state, and learn how you can help.  Go to the Commonwealth Ballroom, Lobby Level, on Friday, June 24th, 2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
USMC Evening Parade:  Participation is limited to the first 100 attendees with authorized badges.  The performance at the historic USMC Barracks at 8th and I Streets, Washington, DC, is Friday, June 24th; buses will board at 6:30 p.m.
Well received last year, there will again be a League-Hosted Farewell Reception on Saturday, June 25th, in the Crystal Room, Plaza Level, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
The League Boutique will open in the Old Dominion Board Room, Plaza Level, on Wednesday, June 22nd, at 3:00 p.m. and during posted hours throughout the meeting.  A Silent Auction will be held prior to the 47th Annual Dinner.
Displays:  DPAA and 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration displays will be located in the Virginia Ballroom Foyer, Plaza Level, available for public review by noon on Wednesday, June 22nd.
League Business Session/Policy Resolutions:  To ensure availability for the League Business Session, Saturday, June 25th, 2:00 p.m., resolutions must be submitted in writing to Resolutions Chairman Mark Stephensen by 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 24th.  Resolutions may also be introduced on the floor.  The League Business Session is open to all credentialed 47th Annual Meeting attendees, but only dues-current League Family Members (white badges) are eligible to vote.
DNA Testing:  Family members who have not provided a sample for DNA comparison are strongly urged to do so.  Check with your Service Casualty Office on the First Floor to determine eligibility.
Cell phones must be silenced during all sessions, including the 47th Annual Dinner.  Smoking and vapor cigarettes are strictly prohibited in meeting rooms; smoking areas outside the Hilton Crystal City Hotel are posted.
Dress Code:  Dress for meeting sessions is business casual or Military Class B; for the 47th Annual Meeting Dinner, dress for ladies is cocktail attire and, for men, suit and tie or Military Class A.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
3:00 - 9:00 PM            REGISTRATION
4:00 - 5:00 PM            ORIENTATION FOR NEW ATTENDEES                            
5:30  PM                     Board Buses to Fort Myer                                            
6:00 – 8:30 PM           TWILIGHT TATTOO – FT MYER               
8:45  PM                     Board Buses for Hilton
Thursday, June 23, 2016
 9:00  AM                    OPENING GENERAL SESSION
                                    Call to Order & Official Ceremonies
                                        Keynote Remarks:      The Honorable Ashton Carter (To be invited)
                                                                           Secretary of Defense
                                    Unveiling of National POW/MIA Recognition Day Poster – 2016
                                    Mission & Policy Update & Assessment
                                    US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs                         
                                    Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration Presentation    
1:00 – 3:00 PM           GENERAL SESSION – NATIONAL POLICY*                                 
                                    Historical Perspective – 1975 – 2015:  Mission Origin & Impact      
                                    Today’s Mission, Priority & Objectives
                                    Operational Perspective Worldwide                             
                                          Developing & Facilitating Family
                                    & Veteran Engagement 
                                    Strategic Partnerships Update
  3:00 – 4:00  PM        FROM THE VETERANS’ PERSPECTIVE                
  6:00  PM                   NO-HOST RECEPTION                                                
Friday, June 24, 2016
  8:30 – 11:30 AM       GENERAL SESSION*                                                                     
                                    Asia & Pacific Regional Approach                            
                                    Maximizing SRV Capabilities to
                                    Expand the Accounting Process               
                                    Today’s Realities in Laos & Cambodia
                                    Case Management System – Status & Priorities                  
                                    Understanding the Identification Processes                          
11:45 AM                    WORKSHOPS: Your Role in Case Mgmt.
                                                             & Dealing with Ambiguous Loss
  1:00 PM                    SERVICE HOSTED LUNCHEONS                                                                                                                                                                         
                                    USA                                                                            Washington Room     
                                    USN/USMC/Civilian                                                    Adams Room             
                                    USAF                                                                          Madison Room

  2:45 PM                    REGIONAL MEETINGS
4:00 PM                      GENERAL SESSION*                                                           
                               DIA’s Commitment to the POW/MIA Accounting Mission            
Augmenting DPAA’s Investigation Process 
Archival Research & Investigation Potential 
         Macro Analyses in Support of Policy & Operations
                Case by Case Analyses in Support of Field Operations
  6:30  PM                   Board Buses to 8th & I                                                                        
                                   Space is limited to the first 100 attendees with badges.
                                  USMC Barracks

10:00  PM                   Buses return to Hilton Crystal City Hotel
Saturday, June 25, 2016
                                                                         Q & A PANEL

Moderated by the League Chairman of the Board, presenters will respond to questions from family members and, time permitting, veterans and others, covering any and all subjects raised in prior sessions.
  2:00 – 5:00 PM         LEAGUE BUSINESS SESSION
                                    League Office Report                                    
                                    Treasurer’s Report/Annual Audit                               
                                    Resolutions for Consideration/Voting by
                                    League Family Members              
                                    Open Discussion
DEFIANT:  The POWs Who Endured Vietnam’s Most Infamous Prison, the
Women who Fought for Them, and the One Who Never Returned      
(Best-selling author Alvin Townley has traveled the world capturing stories of adventure, purpose, and inspiration. His travels have taken him from Wall Street and the halls of Congress to Middle East combat zones, the infamous Hanoi Hilton, and five aircraft carriers in three oceans. His most recent book, DEFIANT, reveals the story of the eleven diehard officers who led the American POWs in North Vietnam – and of their extraordinary wives who founded the National League. The book arrived to praise from The New York Times, Jim Lovell, John McCain, Jimmy Carter, and many others. At venues from The Coca-Cola Company and The Home Depot to the University of Virginia and the USS STOCKDALE, Mr. Townley has reminded Americans of all generations never to forget the servicemen and families who have sacrificed for our freedom.)

6:30 – 8:00 PM        LEAGUE–HOSTED FAREWELL RECEPTION          


In case of emergency, call the Hilton Crystal City Operator.
*US Government Briefings are presented during these sessions; families who travel by COIN Assist are obligated, legally, to attend all scheduled briefings.

As a keepsake, a Commemorative Program is designed and published each year.  You can honor your missing loved one, colleague or friend, convey congratulations to the League on the occasion of our 47th Annual Meeting, or advertise your business service.  If the latter, the donation is not tax-deductible, as you benefit in return.  

FULL PAGE (8 ½” x 11”) - $500*
½ PAGE (8 ½” x 5 ½”) - $250*
¼ PAGE (4 ¼” x 5 ½”) - $125**
(as submitted)
“IN HONOR OF” - $25
(Submit name to be honored, with your name and relationship)
Send camera-ready ads by email,, if possible. 
Mail hard-copy, with payment, to:
National League of POW/MIA Families
5673 Columbia Pike, Suite 100
Falls Church, VA  22041
Deadline:  June 1, 2016
*Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters, Updates
& Registration for the 47
th Annual Meeting. 
**Donors at this level receive League Membership, Newsletters & Updates.
The League is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization; Federal Tax ID #23-7071242