In Hawaii, the newly formed Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is receiving positive reviews, which in today’s political climate is rare for any federal government agency.

Recently retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington was sworn in as the first director of the DPAA on June 22. Under the new plan, DPAA consolidated three previous federal agencies: the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), which was based in the D.C. area; the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that was 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.

Linnington hit the ground running, spending several days during his first week in office at the 46th annual National League of POW/MIA Families meeting introducing himself to family members of POWs and MIAs, veterans, and key staff people while announcing that DPAA’s top priority for recovering missing remains of veterans will be in Southeast Asia (SEA), including Laos and Cambodia. This was a critical announcement for Vietnam veterans as leadership in the previous agencies were quietly drifting toward more emphasis on recovering WWII remains while deemphasizing SEA recovery missions.

During a break in services earlier this week in Hawaii, from left, MG Kelly McKeague, former DPAA Deputy Director, Mike Taylor, chairman of the SOA's POW/MIA Committee, and Mr Mike Linnington, Director, DPAA
From left, MG Kelly McKeague, DPAA deputy director, Mike Taylor, chairman of the SOA’s POW/MIA Committee, and Mike Linnington, director of the DPAA. Photo courtesy of Mike Taylor.

Today there are 1,627 service members listed as MIA in SEA, which includes 51 Green Berets reported missing in action in Laos during the eight-year secret war, and 260 American aviators, of which more than 100 went missing and are presumed dead while flying missions in support of the secret war run under the aegis of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam–Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG).