NEWS | Dec. 23, 2019

Alabama Native Searches for Missing Service Member from Vietnam War

By Sgt. Melanye Martinez Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Across the U.S., all walks of military life are attached to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

Military members assigned to DPAA recovery teams receive a one of kind experience. That experience is what U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Shamar Jones was looking forward to.

Jones joined the Air force Sept. 16, 1998. He was born and raised in Thomasville, Alabama.

“I joined the Air Force due to the fact that, I didn’t want to put my family in a bind… and I wanted to get a chance to travel the world and an opportunity to get an education,” Jones said.

During his time in the Air Force, Jones has traveled all over the world, most recently to Vietnam.

“I learned about DPAA from a previous co-worker at the Defense Information Systems Agency at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam,” Jones said. “He talked about a previous mission to Vietnam and he recommended to me that if I ever got the opportunity to go, to volunteer for the assignment.”

Jones was assigned as a recovery noncommissioned officer to a DPAA recovery team. The team’s mission was to search for the remains of a missing U.S. service member from the Vietnam War in the Quang Binh Province.

Jones said his day-to-day tasks consisted of manual labor such as digging, screening, and setting up work areas, which led to the discovery of aircraft wreckage and life-support evidence on the excavation site.

During the mission the team missed Halloween and thanksgiving in the States, but were treated like family and celebrated the holidays with their Vietnamese counterparts.

“Working with the local Vietnamese, it became like family away from home,” Jones said. “What I’m going to remember the most from the mission is the amount of hard work that it took from the locals and the U.S. as a whole to be able to come together as a team to do something amazing like this,” Jones said.

The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. DPAA is responsible for implementing the Secretary of Defense’s program to account for the more than 81,000 DoD personnel and other individuals who remain unaccounted from the World War II era through the Gulf Wars.

In Fiscal Year 2019, DPAA accounted for 218 Americans, a milestone for the agency. That means 218 families now have answers after decades of uncertainty.

News media looking for more information about DPAA or Master Sgt. Jones, may visit, find us on social media at, or email Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman at