- Wednesday, May 22, 2019

This year marks the 30th anniversary for The National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen Annual Meeting.

The Alliance was formed when Dolores Apodaca Alfond, former prisoners of war and family members of America’s POW/MIA from World War II, Korean War, Cold War, and the Vietnam War grew dissatisfied with what they witnessed regarding the POW/MIA accounting mission.

Our founding members did not start their quest for truth 30 years ago but had been involved in the POW/MIA issue for several decades prior. The Alliance has kept true to their founding principles over the decades and now include America’s missing personnel from the Gulf Wars (Operation Desert Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom), Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), and those held hostage due to military and government work they were doing overseas at the behest of the U.S. government.

As a respected and honest advocate, The Alliance continues its mission to represent our missing Americans and their families. We strive to work truly as an “alliance” and work with other nonprofits, academia, and concerned citizens to reach our goals, which are simple:

•The return of any live POW.

•A truthful and accurate accounting of our missing.

•The recovery and scientific identification of remains or a reasonable explanation as to why return, recovery, or a full accounting is impossible.

As the decades have passed, The Alliance, as well as members of Rolling Thunder, have expanded their membership from veterans, former POWs and their families, and the families of POW/MIA. Designated primary next of kin (PNOK) for POW/MIA have become elderly or deceased and the fight for our POW/MIA has been passed on to generations far removed from their loved ones who are unaccounted for. This is a very sad state, which indicates how delayed the truthful and accurate accounting of America’s POW/MIA is.

No matter how much time has passed, The Alliance’s and Rolling Thunder’s fight is still ongoing. This fight can be witnessed in our current world news. A key issue for The Alliance goes beyond the accounting of the remains of Americans — we seek an accounting from North Korea and the Vietnam War countries of Americans last known ALIVE in enemy hands who have not yet been returned. According to voluminous declassified files related to the Korean War, some of the missing American servicemen were sent from North Korea through China to the former Soviet Union. The fate of some of our Vietnam War servicemen can very likely be tied to the former Soviet Union as well.

When we began 30 years ago, our National Chairperson was Dolores Apodaca Alfond, and our primary modes of correspondence were typewritten letters and the Bits ‘N Pieces Newsletter, which was sent via snail mail or fax. Our research included hours upon hours reviewing microfiche and printed material at the National Archives. When Ms. Alfond passed away in 2010, her sister Janella Apodaca Rose was nominated and elected into the National Chairperson role and worked with the Board of Directors to fulfill Ms. Alfond’s last wishes for The Alliance. Ms. Alfond wished for The Alliance’s vast documentation and research regarding Vietnam War-era POW/MIA to be donated to The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University to keep the data available for future generations. The Alliance’s information is being digitized and will eventually be available at www.vietnam.ttu.edu.

Much of our other research was held in hard copy by Lynn O’Shea, a concerned citizen and The Alliance’s primary researcher. Ms. O’Shea worked tirelessly to research the vast POW/MIA issue, build our Bits ‘N Pieces Newsletter, and build our original website to post information. When Ms. O’Shea passed away in 2015, The Alliance transferred more hard copy and digital information to other researchers who are experts in various wars to continue The Alliance’s research mission. Our user-friendly website (www.nationalalliance.org), YouTube Channel, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter (@AlliancePOWMIA) accounts also house various “bits ‘n pieces” of our research. Our newsletter, Bits ‘N Pieces, got its name due to the methodical process of gathering information over the years to provide an understanding of the various POW/MIA issues. We no longer fax our newsletter, but it can be found on our website and Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the newsletter and other information direct to your e-mail, please contact us at info@nationalalliance.org.

We are proud to have been part of Rolling Thunder’s events from its beginning. Ms. Alfond and Ms. O’Shea were guest speakers or attendees during the Ride for Freedom events up until their deaths. In 2014, the torch was passed to another generation in the Apodaca family, Nicolette Apodaca Rose, to represent The Alliance during Rolling Thunder’s Ride for Freedom Speakers Program. Ms. Rose is honored to represent The Alliance as well as her MIA family members from the Vietnam War and WWII’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Please join The Alliance for our 30th Annual Meeting on May 25, 2019 from 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Virginia. It is free to the public and all are welcome. We also look forward to seeing you during Washington D.C.’s last Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom. After 32 years, on May 26 at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Lincoln Memorial, you will have the chance to hear from Rolling Thunder and The Alliance, longtime friends and advocates for America’s POW/MIA!

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