The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was incorporated in the District of Columbia on May 28, 1970. Voting membership is comprised of wives, children, parents, siblings and other close relatives of Americans who were or are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), Killed in Action/Body not Recovered (KIA/BNR) and returned American Vietnam War POWs. Associate membership is comprised of POW/MIA and KIA/BNR relatives who do not meet voting membership requirements, veterans and other concerned citizens. The League’s sole purpose is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.
The League originated on the west coast in the late 1960s. Believing that the US Government’s policy of keeping a low profile on the POW/MIA issue while urging family members to refrain from publicly discussing the problem was unjustified, the wife of a ranking POW initiated a loosely organized movement that evolved into the National League of POW/MIA Families. In October 1968, the first POW/MIA story was published. As a result of that publicity, the families began communicating with each other, and the group grew in strength from 50 to 100, to 300, and kept growing. Small POW/MIA family groups flooded the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris with telegraphic inquiries regarding the prisoners and missing, the first major activity in which hundreds of families participated.
Eventually, the necessity for formal incorporation was recognized. In May 1970, a special adhoc meeting of the families was held at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, at which time the League’s charter and by-laws were adopted. Elected by the voting membership, now numbering approximately 1,000, a seven-member Board of Directors meets regularly to determine League policy and direction. Board Members, Regional Coordinators, responsible for activities in multi-state areas, and State Coordinators represent the League in most states.
For additional information on League policies, positions and activities, check the web site: www.pow-miafamilies.org.
Did you know…
1,666 Americans are now listed by DoD as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War: Vietnam – 1,284 (VN-471 VS-813); Laos – 318; Cambodia – 57; Peoples Republic of China territorial waters – 7. (These numbers occasionally fluctuate due to investigations resulting in changed locations of loss.) The League seeks the return of all US prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains. The League’s highest priority is accounting for Americans last known alive. Official intelligence indicates that Americans known to be in captivity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were not returned at the end of the war. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it must be assumed that these Americans may still be alive. As policy, the US Government does not rule out the possibility that Americans could still be held.
Related…Home At Last
Army Capt. Charles R. Barnes, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa., was buried yesterday, May 2, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On March 16, 1969, Barnes and four other service members departed Qui Nhon Airfields bound for Da Nang and Phu Bai, in a U-21A Ute aircraft. As they approached Da Nang, they encountered low clouds and poor visibility. Communications with the aircraft were lost, and they did not land as scheduled. Immediate search efforts were limited due to hazardous weather conditions, and all five men were listed as missing in action.
Rest in Peace our Brother. We will NEVER forget you and the price you paid.