Since it was formed in 1970, the National League of POW/MIA Families has sought three things: the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing and the repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving the United States during the Vietnam War.
Today, the organization says 1,621 people are still missing and unaccounted for since 1975, when the Vietnam War ended.
Some 90 percent of these POW/MIA service members were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia that were under North Vietnamese military control. These include 466 people in North Vietnam, 798 in South Vietnam, 301 in Laos, 49 in Cambodia and seven in local waters, the league said in April.
According to the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), two Vietnam-era service members have been accounted for this year: U.S. Air Force Major Dean A. Klenda, who was lost Sept. 17, 1965, and identified March 1; and Army Sgt. First Class Alan L. Boyer, who was declared missing in action March 28, 1968, and identified March 16.
Another long-missing officer’s remains may have been recovered in Vietnam, but an analysis has not been completed, the league said.
In 2015 13 Vietnam-era service members were identified, including three Army officers lost in Cambodia in 1970; two U.S. Air Force officers lost in Laos in 1966 and 1970; and eight officers from several military branches lost in Vietnam between 1965 and 1971, according to the DPAA.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who traveled to Vietnam this week with President Obama, said last month that the accounting of POW/MIA service members is “absolutely a prerequisite and nonnegotiable” part of the ongoing normalization talks with Vietnam.
“Literally, we have people over there still today to complete that task of accountability,” Mr. Kerry said April 27, recalling how archaeologists were looking for human remains at a C-130 crash site in Vietnam.
According to the families’ organization, as of May 19, the state-by-state breakdown of Americans who are POW/MIA are as follows:
District of Columbia 8
New Hampshire 6
New Jersey 42
New Mexico 12
New York 106
North Carolina 39
North Dakota 8
Rhode Island 7
South Carolina 27
South Dakota 7
West Virginia 17
*Another 15 Americans did not list a home state or were based outside the United States.