MIA Facts Site

A Few Sources of
POW- MIA Information

Summary.  I often receive e-mail from folks seeking information on missing men or on current operations.  This article is a listing of sources of information that should prove helpful.

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO)

The DPMO mission includes two elements:

bulletExercise policy, control and oversight of the process for investigation and recovery related to missing persons, including search, rescue, evasion, and escape.
bulletCoordinate for the DoD with other departments and agencies of the US Government all matters concerning missing persons.

The DPMO Web Site

I recommend that you visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo .  You will find a lot of valuable information there.

bulletAnnouncements of search, excavation, and investigation operations in SEAsia, Korea, and elsewhere in the world, including results of each operation.
bulletAnnouncements when identifications of remains are made.
bulletListing of missing from SEAsia and from Korea.  You can download these lists; they require Adobe Acrobat Reader and the DPMO site has a link where you can download Acrobat if you do not have it.  These lists contain a built-in search function so you can search for name(s), dates, and other data.
bulletArticles of special activities, special research projects, and the like.
bulletThe schedule for the DPMO family briefings for a year in advance.

POW/MIA Accounting Booklet

DPMO publishes a very good booklet titled POW/MIA Accounting - 1999.   I recommend that interested folks get a copy by writing to DPMO at: 

Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office
2400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-2400

This publication is full of good information:  what DPMO does; history of the MIA issues in SEAsia, Korea, Cold War, and WW II; description of the mtDNA identification process; and, all sorts of other material.

Information About a Missing Man

The McCain Bill

In December 1991, Congress enacted 50 USC 435, known as Public Law 102-190, commonly referred to as The McCain Bill.  The statute requires that the Secretary of Defense place "in a library-like setting" all information relating to the treatment, location, or condition of US personnel who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.   The Library of Congress is this "library-like setting."

Prior to releasing this information to the LOC, the DoD was required to contact the next-of-kin of missing men to obtain their permission to release publicly this information.  In early 1992, letters were mailed to 2,266 primary next of kin (PNOK); 1,893 responded.  Of these:  366 declined to consent to release; 243 were located but failed to respond.   After considerable searching, 130 PNOK could not be located and were assumed to have given their consent.

At the end of this process, information relating to the missing men was placed in the LOC.  Essentially, what was put in the LOC collection was the "case file" of each missing man whose PNOK had given permission.  Except for come material that was redacted or withheld because of classification concerns, the full files are in the LOC collection.

The McCain Bill has been amended twice.

bulletOne amendment incorporated the Korean War and the Cold War unaccounted-for under similar provisions except that the National Archives is the "library-like setting" for those records.
bulletThe second amendment established a 90-day period to gain permission from the PNOK of Korean or Cold War missing.  (The 90-day period applies only to Korean and cold War missing.)

Obtaining Information From the Library of Congress

Anyone who wishes to have copies of the information on a missing man (or missing me) from the LOC, the process is this:

  1. Visit the Library of Congress Vietnam War POW/MIA web site at:  http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pow/powhome.html
  2. On that site you will find a search engine that allows you to search for missing men and other data.
  3. The search results will contain a reference to a microfilm roll and the location (frame ) on that roll.
  4. Note the references that you want.
  5. Visit a local library and ask that they obtain from the LOC the microfilm.  When it arrives, you can then view it on the local library's microfilm reader and make hard copies.  The microfilm will be returned to the LOC. 
  6. Alternatively, you can write to Library of Congress; Photoduplication Service; Washington, DC 20540-4570.  For a fee, they will duplicate the pages that you want.

National Archives

I have never visited the National Archives site at http://www.nara.gov/nara.nail.html
but I believe that they have some documents, photographs, maps, and the like available in digital form.

The Military Services

Each military service maintains a casualty operations branch that is responsible for all casualty matters, including information on prisoners and missing.  I will not post here the addresses or phone numbers of those organizations because they are responsible not only for historical information, but also for current casualty operations.   That is, if a service member is killed or injured in an accident, or falls ill, these offices are responsible for notifying families.  Because of their work loads, they need to deal only with families.

If you want to find out information about a missing man, I recommend that you:

bulletSearch the LOC database and get information from them.
bulletContact the Public Affairs office of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.
bulletWrite to DPMO.

Please DO NOT write to your Congressional Representative or Senator.  They will simply forward the letter to the Pentagon and the same folks who would have answered you directly will answer through the Congressional office.

I hope that this information has been of some assistance to you. Thank you for your concern.