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letter to the editor Bring home unrecovered POWs from Vietnam War

January 24, 2019

Bring home unrecovered POWs from Vietnam War

Forty-six years ago, Jan. 27, 1973, an announcement was made that all American prisoners taken during the Vietnam War would be released within 90 days of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. During Operation Homecoming, 591 Americans were repatriated. More than 2,500 Americans had not been accounted for. There are still unrecovered prisoners of war, those listed as last known alive, and those still missing in action from Southeast Asia for whom there has not been an accounting.

In 1985, 41 Connecticut servicemen were unaccounted for from Southeast Asia. Fifteen have been accounted for beginning with Danbury’s Cmdr. Lee Cole, whose remains were returned in 1988 and identified in 1989. However, three of those burials were co-mingled remains with no individual identifications possible. Twenty-six families still wait. One of those men, Major Peter Hesford, was listed as Last Known Alive in Laos. Seven are still missing from Laos. No prisoners captured by the Pathet Lao were returned during Operation Homecoming.

We are grateful for the return of identifiable remains (203 in Fiscal Year 2018) from WWII, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Only 10 of the 203 were from the Vietnam War. The fate of unrecovered POWs and those Last Known Alive in Southeast Asia must be addressed at the highest levels of our governments immediately in order to bring anyone home while they are still living. All wartime records must be declassified. We must not be satisfied with the slow process of the return of identifiable remains.

Kathy Shemeley

President,

Prisoner of War / Missing in Action /

CT Forget-Me-Nots

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