Monday, November 21, 2016

Long time passing ...

I got to wondering the other day how many U.S. military personnel lost during the war in Vietnam still are unaccounted for --- remains never recovered --- and specifically, how many of them are Iowans.

The U.S. sustained 58,220 losses during that war, including it's generally agreed 47,424 in combat or of combat-related wounds. That balance died in accidents or of causes ranging from unrelated medical conditions to suicide and murder.

Of the total, some 1,600 remain unaccounted for, 25 of them from Iowa.

I found several of the answers I was looking for, including rosters of names arranged by state, at a fairly new web site maintained by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. This agency, established on Jan. 30, 2015, consolidates the work previously undertaken by several separate agencies into one.

There are similar rosters at the site for World War II (more than 73,000 unaccounted for, 1,480 of them Iowans) and Korea (more than 7,800 unaccounted for, 134 of them Iowans).

It's a useful tool and because the search for and identification of remains is an ongoing process, a way to follow the agency's progress --- news releases are published after families are notified once positive identifications have been made.

"Unaccounted for" means various things, illustrated by the cases of two southern Iowans on the Vietnam list: James D. Cohron of Centerville and Rex S. Wood of Moulton.

SFC Cohron, U.S. Army Special Forces, age 39, vanished while participating in a covert operation a mile inside Laos on July 5, 1968. His team was ambushed, then evacuated, but Cohron could not be located. Subsequent searches of the area also failed to locate remains. He is commemorated on Panel 34E, Line 35, of the Wall.

U.S. Navy LCDR Wood, age 32, was lost when the aircraft he was piloting crashed into the sea during night launch operations on June 2, 1967, off North Vietnam. He is commemorated on Panel 21E, Line 40.

Long time passing, indeed.

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