November 9, 2000, the United States Congress enacted a new immigration policy known as the “Bring Them Home Alive Act”. This legislation was aimed at individuals who were Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea and Chinese nationals, as well as anyone from a former independent Soviet state. The bill granted asylum and refugee status for any of these people who returned to the United States any U.S. prisoner of war or serviceman who was missing in action. Refugee and asylum status would also be given to their spouse and any children.
This bill also authorized an international radio and television broadcast designed to inform people in foreign countries of this program. Worldwide coverage would transmit the message to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, North Korea and Russia. This program would receive twenty hours of airtime over a thirty day period. A website was designed with international access with information readily available.
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee was so moved by the sentiment of this bill, she said this when she placed her “yea” vote: “This bill creates an extraordinary opportunity for nationals of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China and the independent states of the former Soviet Union to do a wonderful thing and be richly rewarded for it… I am deeply moved when I think of the grief that is being endured by so many Americans, the Americans who are living with the uncertainty of having family members who were missing in action or prisoners… I feel very strongly that the bill is worthwhile even if it only brings one solder home to his family after all of these years.”
Although there is still debate over just how many are still unaccounted for, as far as the gringa’s concerned, a human being is a human being, not a number. The gringa stands with Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, if even one, single, solitary soldier is still unaccounted for, he matters. Whether alive or dead, he belongs in his homeland.
The folks at the POW Network, www.pownetwork.org, will never forget. They maintain a database regarding all American POW’s and MIA’s during the Vietnam and Korean War eras. The ones who returned alive or whose remains were returned to the United States are updated. Disputed identity claims are noted. But still, considering the ones who have returned or been identified, the list of the ones who remain lost to us is daunting.
As late as January, 2015, remains were still being identified. Some claims of servicemen who are considered killed in action are disputed because their remains were never actually found. The determination was found because the remains of the rest of the crew were discovered and identified. There are also those that were lost at sea. Some POWs and MIAs are even civilians. Some POWs that are considered deceased have only been identified by photographs which has also caused some disagreement over whether family members actually believe it to be their loved one.
As the gringa explored the website, clicked on random names and discovered the information connected with that name, these names came alive for me. I cannot write about “never forgetting” and yet not mention their names. The names are too numerous to list in one blog post. Even by selecting only the ones who are still unaccounted for, the gringa is still left with an enormous task too big for one post. I don’t know at this time how many posts it will take, but consecutive posts will continue the list of names until I reach the very last name on the list. To the gringa, this seems the only respectful thing to do.
As the dear reader explores the list, if you click on an item, whether name, date, military branch or side notes, it is a link that will take you directly to a data page for that particular POW. The gringa thanks you in advance for your patience as I continue to list these names for the next week or so, maybe longer, however long it takes.
Incident Name Branch Notes
Photo credit: http://blog.daum.net/