HANOI, Viet Nam -- On the evening of December 12th, 2018, the United States and Vietnam celebrated 30 years of sustained cooperation to provide the fullest possible accounting for those Americans still missing from the war in Southeast Asia. Distinguished guests and representatives of the two agencies tasked with this humanitarian mission attended a formal dinner to commemorate this milestone in bilateral ties between the two countries. Guests included Caryn McClelland, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission; Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz, the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s Deputy Director of Operations; Bui Thanh Son, Vice Minister Foreign Affairs; Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of National Defense.
The Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Personnel was formed shortly after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, and tasked to recover and return the remains of missing U.S. service personnel. In 1988, the Government of Vietnam allowed a team of U.S. recovery specialists to participate in the first numbered search and recovery activity. U.S. and Vietnamese investigation, recovery and scientific personnel have since participated in 133 Joint Field Activities with one of those missions cancelled due to severe flooding in the central region of Vietnam, and the other cancelled because of the tragic helicopter crash in which 16 U.S. and Vietnamese team members and helicopter crew perished.
At the end of the war, 1,973 U.S. military and civilian personnel were unaccounted for in Vietnam. Since then, the remains of 726 personnel have been identified and returned to their loved ones. The two agencies continue their pursuit to account for the remaining 1,247 personnel.