MIA Facts Site

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MIA Facts Site

by Joe Schlatter


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Purpose of this site Table of Contents and What's New Breaking News


Purpose of this site

This site is published to provide facts about  the issue of Americans who remain "missing in action" (MIA) from the Vietnam War.  At the conclusion of the Vietnam War,  2,583 Americans did not return.  A vast mythology has built up around what really happened to these individuals.   Misinformation, pseudo-history, and deliberate fabrication are  rampant.  As a result, myths are regularly proclaimed to be fact.  This site destroys those myths.

The Myths:

bullet Not all US POWs were released by their captors at the end of the Vietnam War.
bulletThe U.S. government knew that all POWs were not released.
bulletU.S. POWs remain in captivity today.
bulletThere is a conspiracy within the U. S. government to hide the continued imprisonment of Americans and, whenever the truth emerges, it is debunked.
bulletThe U.S. government is doing nothing to account for or recover missing men. 

The Facts:

bullet All U.S. POWs captured during the Vietnam War were released, either at Operation Homecoming (spring, 1973) or earlier. 
bulletThe only men captured and not released are 113 who died in captivity; their identities and the circumstances of their deaths are known; some of their remains have been recovered/returned..
bulletNo U. S. prisoners of war have been abandoned by the U. S. government.
bulletNo U.S POWs remained in captivity after the conclusion of Operation Homecoming.
bullet There is no conspiracy within the U. S. government to conceal the abandonment of prisoners of war (who were not abandoned in the first place).
bullet No U.S. POWs from Indochina were taken to the Soviet Union, China, or any other third country.
bulletThe U.S. government has been -- since well before the end of the Vietnam War -- exerting all possible efforts to recover or account for missing men.   That effort continues  today and is unprecedented in the history of warfare.

Those who promote these false claims have produced a vast array of half-truth, untruth, hearsay, unsubstantiated claims, personal attacks, and mythology.   The accumulated effect of years of nonsense has been exactly what one would expect: 

The big lie has been accepted as truth in some quarters.

Added July 15, 2016:  A Statement of Facts

My comments on the history and current state of "the POW, MIA issue." 

This will make some people very unhappy. 



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How many Americans are "missing" in Southeast Asia?

At the end of Operation Homecoming in the Spring of 1973, 2,646 Americans did not return from Southeast Asia -- they were "unaccounted for."  Since then,  1,061 have been "accounted for" by (1) recovering and identifying remains; (2) return of a small number of individuals after Operation Homecoming; (3) recovering the remains of several individuals as a group whose remains are not separately identifiable.

Currently, 1,585 Americans are "unaccounted for" in Southeast Asia:

bulletVietnam:   1,245
bulletNorth Vietnam : As of August 2016, DPAA is no longer differentiating between "North Vietnam" and "South Vietnam" -- only "Vietnam."
bulletSouth Vietnam :
bulletLaos :  285
bulletCambodia  :  48
bulletChina (territorial waters)  :  7

These figures were last updated on :  December 04, 2020
Figures include 468 at sea or overwater losses

Click here for details on the number of missing.

Click here to see a chart that lists the missing by service and by country of loss.


The following statement is copied from the DPAA website page titled "Progress in Vietnam," dated November 16, 2020.

Of the remaining 1,245 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam, 470 are in a “non-recoverable” category.  This means that as a result of rigorous investigation, we have conclusive evidence the individual perished, but do not believe it possible to recover his remains.  On rare occasions, new leads can arise that bring a case back to an active status.

Field Operations

bulletThe Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) planned to conduct four Joint Field Activities (JFAs) this fiscal year in Vietnam.  Each JFA involves approximately 95 U.S. personnel plus their Vietnamese counterparts.  Together, they work on investigations and excavations throughout the country for a period of approximately 30 days per JFA. The COVID-19 (corona virus) pandemic forced the cancellation of the first DPAA-led JFA, but in its place, three all-Vietnamese teams began executing the 141st field activity at the end of October.
bulletRecovered remains believed to be those of Americans are transferred to DPAA’s laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis and identification by forensic anthropologists.
bulletThe 141st field activity began October 27 and will continue until the end of November.  Three all-Vietnamese teams  are excavating sites in Lang Son, Yen Bai, and Quang Nam Provinces. 

Resolving “Last Known Alive” Cases

bulletOf the original 196 individuals “Last Known Alive” in Vietnam (those who survived or may have survived their loss incident and were either alive on the ground, in captivity, or in immediate proximity to capture, but did not return), DOD has confirmed the death of 177, with 19 still unresolved.
bulletOf the 177 whose deaths have been confirmed, the remains of 51 have been located and identified; efforts continue to recover the remaining 126.
bulletU.S. and Vietnamese specialists met in Hanoi last year to discuss Last Known Alive cases in Vietnam, as well as in Cambodia and Laos.   

Research and Investigations

bulletU.S. POW/MIA investigators rotate into Hanoi on a continuous basis to pursue leads associated with the remaining 1,246 Americans still unaccounted for in Vietnam.
bulletA research effort continues in the Ministry of National Defense (MND) central archives.  Since May 2012, Vietnam has turned over policy, strategic, and tactical level archival documents regarding unaccounted for Americans.
bulletIn addition to the interviews conducted during JFAs, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators have conducted nearly 300 oral history interviews of former and current Vietnamese government and military officials.  This program is ongoing. 
bulletSince Vietnamese troops occupied large portions of Cambodia and Laos where Americans went missing during the War, the U.S. asks Vietnamese veterans and civilians to cooperate in our operations in the two countries.  Vietnamese veterans have actively supported DPAA investigation and recovery operations in both Cambodia and Laos; many of these veterans have participated more than once.






As of early 2015, the Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) was replaced by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). 

Here is a link to the DPAA website.


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So, what do I know about it?
My Credentials

I am Joe Schlatter, Colonel, U. S. Army, Retired.  I retired on 1 April 1995.  My involvement in the MIA issue came during two assignments:

bulletFebruary 1986 - July 1990
bulletFeb 86 - Dec 88:  Chief, Analysis Branch, Defense Intelligence Agency  Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs
bulletDec 88 - Jul 90:  Chief,  Defense Intelligence Agency Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs
bulletJuly 1993 - March 1995:  Deputy Director, Defense POW-MIA Office

Vietnam Veteran
2/13 Field Artillery
February 1969 - February 1970

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On this site are over 75 articles that deal with various aspects of the MIA issue.

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The views presented here are my own and do not represent an official position of the United States Government or of the Department of Defense.  None of the material presented here has been cleared by the Department of Defense.
This link is an article that describes the sources used for this site.

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I write in a conversational style and try draw in all facts and matters bearing on a subject.  I am writing from memory, without notes, and I do not have total recall.  If I do not recall a specific item, I  contact others and attempt to determine the details.  If I cannot determine the details, I will so indicate.  

If you  want to cut through the details and get to the point, click here to see my proposal for how to get back to reality.

The page that you are now viewing is
only the introduction to the MIA Facts Site. 
On this site are over 75 articles dealing with various aspects of the MIA issue.

For a summary of each article and a link to the article,
go to the
MIA Facts Site Table of Contents
(Big file, takes a minute to load)

Or, click here for the
What's New

(Not as big as Table of Contents, but contains only
last 90 days of articles.)


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Current news :
(More or less "current," that is.)


And now, in mid-February 2015, the "reorganization" is taking shape. 
Here are my comments.


17 May 2014; updated 22 July 2014.  SECDEF Hagel has directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michael Lumpkin, to provide him -- within 30 days -- a plan to do something to speed up the identification of remains and lots of other nonsense.  Here are my comments. 


17 March 2014:  Here we go again.   A recent SECDEF memo is the latest in a long line of actions -- stretching back over three decades -- intended to reorganize, reinvigorate, and "fix" the "MIA accounting process."  Nothing to see here.  Move along.


25 April 2013:  Been a long time but now another phony story emerges.  Go to this link and read the description of a new "documentary film."   The filmmakers claim to have discovered  KIA/BNR John Hartley Robertson (SFC, USArmy) living in a village in Laos.  Not true.  Investigators from the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office visited this clown a couple of times, took DNA samples and compared them to DNA samples from Robertson family members . . . not even close.


6 December 2010:  This is the funniest thing I've read in years!!  Former member of Congress and one of the dumbest men in the world, John LeBoutillier, was ripped off for around $800,000 in a "live POW" scam!!!!


30 October 2010:  As of 31 October 2010, it's time to stop.


8 January 2010:  Former Congressman John LeBoutellier appears to have been scammed out of $18.5K by someone claiming to have information about US POWs.  Heh, heh.


2 August 2009:  Remains of US Navy Captain Scott Speicher found, identified.  Speicher was lost on the first night of the Gulf War, January 1991.


14 July 2008:  An observation:  On 10 July 2008, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held hearings on the POW-MIA issue -- the first Congressional hearings on the issue for several years ( 11 years ?).  I note with great satisfaction that the only people testifying were Navy Rear Adm. Donna Crisp, Commander,  Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and Charles Ray, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW and MIA affair.  No mention was made of the "live prisoner" myth or of "live sightings."  None of the usual "activists" were allowed to testify.  Thank goodness -- no Earl Hopper, no Ted Sampley, no Roger Hall, no Billy Hendon -- none of the usual foolishness.   About time.


15 June 2008.  Attacks on the POW record of Senator John McCain have picked up now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.  In a word, these attacks are nonsense.  The origin of the attacks on McCain is a twisted tale.  Start at this link to read the facts about McCain's POW record and about the attacks on him.  It's a long story, be patient, read all about it.


5 March 2008.  As of early March 2008, a website titled "Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain" has appeared on the Internet.  This site contains monstrous lies about John McCain's behavior as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.  The site is the work of one Ted Sampley of Kinston, NC.  I will post on the MIA Facts Site responses to Sampley's lies about McCain.  Meanwhile, start at this link to learn the background of Sampley and his attacks on John McCain.


8 July 2007.  More about Hendon's MIA claims.  Check out this item -- it's quite relevant in view of Hendon's new book claiming that hundreds of US POWs were abandoned in SEAsia.  Ronald Reagan's comment on Hendon: ". . . off his rocker."


29 May 2007.  I promised myself I wouldn't do this -- but here goes.  Former Congressman Billy Hendon and his long-time girl-friend Beth Stewart have produced a book titled something like An Enormous Lie -- the book is supposed to be a collection of US government documents proving that American POWs were abandoned in Southeast Asia and that there has been and still is a wide-spread conspiracy within the US government to cover up this fact.  Hendon's claims are nonsense.  I have no intention of reading his book -- because I have heard it all before.  If anyone cares, this is what I recommend:  If you must, read Hendon's book.  Then, come back to the MIA Facts Site and compare Hendon's claims to the articles on this site.  I'm betting that every single incident that Hendon uses to support his claim is covered by an article here.  You may want to start with this article about Hendon.


12 September 2006.  Ambassador Charles Ray named as new DASD/POW-MIA Affairs.  Friends of mine who know him speak highly of him -- glad to see an individual of his background and integrity in the job.  I give him two months before the "activists" want to crucify him -- but that tells us more about the "activists" than about DASD Ray.


8 March 2006.  Roger Hall -- a "POW-MIA activist" is also a certifiable screwball.  For years Hall has been pursuing a FOIA request and a lawsuit against the CIA, claiming the CIA has documents proving the presence of US POWs in SEAsia after the end of the Vietnam War.  In February 2006 an appeals court ruled against Hall mainly because -- get this -- the CIA had released the documents he was requesting.  Hall is too dumb to understand the court's ruling -- here is an article about Hall with a link to his site so you can read the court's decision and Hall's response.


9 January 2006.  Almost one year ago (12 February 2005) the "National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing" (at least, that's what they were calling themselves then) announced in their newsletter that the US government had evidence of "hundreds" of US personnel imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag -- "hundreds"  -- that's their words.  Well -- folks, it's been a year -- where are they?  What are their names?  What is being done to bring them home?  Where is any more information?  Could it be that this is just another crock generated by incompetent "researchers" in DPMO?  I'll report, you decide.


12 December 2005.  On 2 December 2005, DASD Jerry Jennings wrote to the DPMO staff a letter informing them that he was retiring from Federal service and stepping down from his position as DASD/POW-MIA Affairs.  I won't go into the details -- mainly because I don't know most of the details -- but -- Jennings had been under attack by the family organizations for some time.  While the family organizations will give long, involved explanations for their opposition to Jennings, in my experience, their attack on him comes from their not being able to control him and comes from Jennings telling people the truth and not telling them what they want to hear.  A short notice of Jennings' retirement is posted on the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/


27 September 2004.  Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of DPMO Jerry Jennings recently made statements relative to the possibility of US POWs being transferred from Vietnam to the USSR that are, in a word, nonsense.  I don't know who Jennings is trying to impress but he would do better to stick with the facts -- which do not support his claims.  Read about it here.


18 September 2004.  This article will be of interest only to a few who are "insiders" to the issue of Americans missing in SEAsia.  Beginning on 11 September 2004, the National Alliance of Families started publishing claims made by an "inside source."  I know the source and in this article I reveal his name and discuss the phony claims he makes.  He is a good guy; I don't know what has happened to him; it's a shame that he will be used, abused, and tossed aside. 


August 21, 2004. The 2004 U. S. Presidential campaign is underway and the Republicans are launching vicious attacks on John Kerry, the Democratic candidate.  In the main, the attacks focus on Kerry's record in Vietnam -- a war that George W. Bush avoided by using his father's connections to get into the Texas Air National Guard.  Some of the attacks on Kerry are coming from the same individual who has been instrumental in spreading false claims about missing Americans and about Senator John McCain. Read about this individual here.  Here is a link to several articles that debunk the lies being told about John Kerry.


February 4, 2004.  Excellent column in the Chicago Sun-Times -- the author will likely be attacked by the "activists."

bulletOctober 4, 2003. One of the "activist" POW-MIA organizations is a group calling themselves "Minnesota Won't Forget POW/MIA."  Once made up mainly of MIA family members, the organization long ago became more "activist" and less "family."  One of their members is an individual named Rich Daly -- Daly claims to be a "researcher" for MN Won't Forget; he may be the executive director now.  Regardless, I had several articles on this site detailing some of the activities of MN Won't Forget.  On October 3, 2003, I received a letter from their attorney accusing me of defaming MN Won't Forget.  I have removed from this site the articles dealing with Daly and MN Won't Forget.  Go to this link for a copy of the letter from their attorney.
bulletJune 7, 2003.  One of the vestiges of the Vietnam era MIA issue is a long-standing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit by one Roger Hall of Silver Spring, MD against the Central Intelligence Agency in which Mr. Hall alleges that the CIA is holding documents that prove US POWs were not released by the Vietnamese at the end of the war and the US government has covered up this fact.  He is suing the CIA to force release of these alleged documents.  Mr. Hall formed a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization to pursue his suit.  Tax returns filed by not-for-profit organizations are public documents and, in April 2003, I requested from Mr. Hall copies of the last three years' of his organization's tax returns.  The returns reveal some facts about his organization's finances that perhaps he does not want to be public knowledge.  Read about it here.
bulletFebruary 2, 2003.  "POW-MIA Internet Blackout Day," sponsored by "Lady Jen" of the "POW-MIA Freedom Fighters" was a total bust.
bulletNovember 19, 2002.  In early October 2002, a British publisher released a book titled The Cage by an individual named Tom Abraham.  Abraham claims to have been a platoon leader with the 1st Cav Division in Vietnam; he also claims to have been captured and escaped.  His claim to have been a prisoner is bogus.   Read about him here.
bulletOctober 14, 2002.   On 11 October 2002, the Secretary of the Navy directed that the status of CAPT Michael Speicher, lost on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, be changed to Missing/Captured.  I retired before most of the work on the Speicher case was done and I am not familiar with the details.  This link takes you to a copy of the SECNAV letter -- the letter contains a brief description of evidence in the case.
bulletJune 13, 2002.  "My Adopted POW." One has only to surf the worldwide web for a few minutes before encountering a "POW-MIA remembrance site" featuring "my adopted POW-MIA."    On several of these sites and other sites sponsored by MIA "activist" groups one sees messages to the effect that "I have adopted (a missing man's name) and would like to contact his family."  These "remembrance sites" and attempts to contact families are, in my view, bad ideas.
bulletMay 10, 2002Operation Wild Fire:  Another MIA Scam:   On 10 May 2002, an individual signing the name "Richard Barker" left a message on the Guestbook.  Barker was part of a scam alleging that the people running the scam knew the whereabouts of US POWs in southern China and would free them -- but they needed a bit of financial help.
bulletApril 4, 2002:  Charles Duke and Kit Mark:  A Serious Analysis.   In May 1970, two US civilian employees of Dynalectron Corporation disappeared in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam.  The US Embassy, US forces, and ARVN forces immediately launched search operations to find these men or to determine what happened to them.  Within a few days, information was received from several sources making it clear that both men were killed in a surprise encounter with Communist guerrillas and buried west of Pleiku on 30 May 1970.  The Duke-Mark case has become one of the bits of mythology used by the MIA "activist" cult -- the incident is misrepresented, and, inaccurate and untrue information is spread about this incident.    Former MIA investigator Bill Bell wrote an article on this incident that was published in the April 2002 issue of Vietnam magazine.  Bell's article is typical of his sloppy analysis and wishful thinking.  The article also is a compilation of the inaccurate, misleading, and untrue information spread by the MIA cult regarding this incident.  Read this article for a serious analysis of this loss incident.
bulletApril 4, 2002: Added three maps to the web site:  (1) Map of Communist military organization for South Vietnam; (2) The Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1968-1972; (3) Regional Map -- Republic of Vietnam.
bulletMarch 19, 2002: USAF Captain Victor Apodaca and 1LT Jon Busch were lost when their F-4 was shot down over North Vietnam, June 8, 1967.    Busch's remains were returned and identified in the 1980's.  In late 2001, the DoD announced the identification of CAPT Apodaca.  CAPT Apodaca's sister, Delores Alfond, has released a denunciation of the identification that is filled with false and misleading information.  Read the facts here.
bulletJanuary 16, 2002:  Nothing much to report.  Work by the Joint Task Force -- Full Accounting, the Central Identification Laboratory, and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab continues to return and identify missing men.
bulletMay 11, 2001:  President Bush issued the certification required by law that Vietnam is cooperating fully with us in our efforts to account for our missing men.  This puts the National League of Families in an interesting position:  they are openly pro-Republican and they denounced Bill Clinton when he issued the same certification.
bulletIn mid-March 2001, two individuals left comments on the guestbook -- here is a response.
bulletOn February 24, 2001, an individual signing the name "Paul Rifenberg" left an uniformed and basically dumb comment on the MIA Facts Site Guestbook.  Here is a response -- though I don't know why I bother.
bulletAugust 5, 2000:  The full text of DPMO's study on the Vietnamese collection and storage of the remains of Americans is avialable online at:  http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/special/vietnam_collection_study.htm .  The study is 3.8MB and is in PDF format.  This is a good study -- I recommend you read it.

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April 7, 2001

On April 7, 2001, in Central Vietnam, a helicopter carrying 7 Americans and 9 Vietnamese crashed, killing all on board -- members of a joint team searching for missing Americans in Vietnam .  The Americans were from the Joint Task Force --Full Accounting and the Army's Central Identification Laboratory -- Hawaii.  The Vietnamese included the helicopter crew and Vietnamese military personnel who work with Americans in the joint MIA recovery effort.  The Americans and most of the Vietnamese killed in this crash were not even alive during the war.  

Tragically, the Vietnam War continues to take the lives of our young men.

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As part of my home page, I have a Home Page Bookstore, associated with Amazon.com, the  online bookstore.  Click here to go to the Bookstore; from there, you can go to my selected books on the MIA issue and, if you desire, you can use the indicated link in the bookstore to order a book online from Amazon.com.

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This page was last updated on:
December 04, 2020

Check back from time to time to read new items; I will post links to new articles on the What's New page. 
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