During his three weeks as the first director of the newly formed Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), recently retired LTG Michael S. Linnington has hit the ground running, bringing new energy and a renewed commitment to the federal government’s efforts to research, locate and return to the United States the 25,000 – 30,000 recoverable remains.

Under the new plan triggered by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, DPAA consolidated three previous federal operations: the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) based in the D.C. area; the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) based in Hawaii where the forensic laboratories are located, and where the search teams are launched for missions to recover unaccounted-for American remains; and the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

On January 30, the JPAC colors were cased during a formal ceremony in Hawaii, the DPMO colors were cased and the DPAA was formally activated. On July 27 the new DPAA building and facility in Hawaii will be dedicated – it’ll be one of three DPAA offices in the country. This will bring staff from 16 separate buildings into one efficient headquarters and a state-of-the-art laboratory with a family viewing area for visitations. The building will be named after Hawaii Senator and Medal of Honor recipient Daniel Inouye. Insiders note that it has taken 14 years to get this building up and running.

Linnington’s initial appearance before the 46th annual National League of POW/MIA Families meeting drew positive reviews from league officials, veterans and family members.

League CEO and Board of Directors Chairman Ann Mills-Griffths, said, “We’re very impressed with Mr. Linnington’s first three weeks on the job. He spent time at our annual meeting talking to the families whose relatives remain missing in action, he looked them in the eye and told them that under his leadership Southeast Asia (SEA) will be DPAA’s top priority.”

Rick Estes, president of the Special Operations Association said, “The members of the SOA’s POW/MIA Committee were very impressed with Mr. Linnington and we look forward to continuing to work with DPAA analysts and field investigators in any effort to find and recover the remains of our soldiers and all missing personnel.”

One family member, who asked not to be named said, “(LTG) Linnington faces formidable challenges, one of which is to stop the bitter, senseless competition that has existed between the three agencies that are merged now into the DPAA. He has to streamline the operation to make Southeast Asia its top priority.”

Mills-Griffiths added, “Mr. Linnington has the right qualifications, the heart, the character as the first DPAA director to get this agency on track, moving into the 21st Century because the Vietnam War was the most recent war, its family members are still alive and today we have the best government-to-government agreements since the cessation of hostilities.”