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Weekly Column: Honoring America's Missing Servicemembers

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

I call attention to National POW/MIA Recognition Day through Senate statements each year to honor America’s prisoners of war (POW)s and missing in action (MIA), commend those keeping attention on our missing servicemembers and embolden those who are working hard to bring our missing servicemembers home.  We cannot let up in bringing home all our nation’s heroes.

The following is the text of my recent Congressional Record Statement:       

Mr. President, in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day this September 18, 2020, I join in raising awareness about the more than 81,900 Americans the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, DPAA, reports remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars and other conflicts.  I also commend the members of the POW*MIA Awareness Rally Corp. of Pocatello, Idaho, and other similar groups that keep a spotlight on the immense service of our American servicemembers and the ongoing need to bring them all home. 

My heart goes out to the American families who have carried on through years, and even decades, waiting for answers to their questions.  Those who see a loved one off to war, but long after the war’s end still await that loved one’s return, shoulder our country’s sorrow.  May all servicemembers’ families get the resolution of knowing their lost family members have been returned to the country they served so admirably. 

Thank you to those who work for and assist the DPAA and related efforts to get needed answers and bring all American servicemembers home.  Piecing together the circumstances, whereabouts and lives of those lost cannot be easy, especially during a global pandemic, but bringing them home is critical to honoring their service.  The DPAA reports that 75 percent of lost Americans are located in the Indo-Pacific, and more than 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea.  Despite the difficulty, the agency announced accounting for more than 70 missing servicemembers since March.  Their locations included Germany, Laos, North Korea, Papua, Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Romania, Saipan, South Korea and Tarawa. 

To help with this effort, I have supported and introduced the bipartisan Bring Our Heroes Home Act, which would address obstacles preventing families and caseworkers from accessing the records needed for recovery efforts by putting one entity in charge of prioritizing and facilitating the declassification of records related to missing servicemembers.  We cannot let up in bringing home all our nation’s heroes, including the 359 Idahoans, who have yet to be returned.  Those who have served our nation deserve no less than to rest at home, and we cannot rest until they do. 

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