Fort Lee, Va. (Sept. 10, 2009) – Fort Lee and the Robert E. Lee Chapter of Association of the United States Army are hosting the annual Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day luncheon Sept. 17, 11:30 a.m., at the Lee Club.
The guest speaker is Mike Hodgkin, director of operational support at the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office, located in Washington, D.C.
The DPMO creates and oversees policy on finding those who are missing or unaccounted for, said Larry Greer, DPMO Public Affairs director.
There are more than 600 people who work around the world to support the DPMO mission through research and investigations into loss sites. The forensic work on the investigations can take many years, said Greer.
Faye Earley, a member of the Robert E. Lee chapter of AUSA and a consultant for Plans, Analysis and Integration Directorate, said she coordinated with DPMO to arrange a guest speaker who could share their mission with a Fort Lee audience.
“Many of our people are not aware that the Department of Defense continues to negotiate, research and investigate our unaccounted for personnel,” said Earley. “We still have Americans being taken hostage and it is important to know what our government is doing to protect and negotiate their return.”
During the luncheon, Hodgkin will speak on the efforts in various countries throughout the world, and reference famous cases the department has worked on. The DPMO’s focus is on past conflicts, as it’s the responsibility of an Armed Forces medical examiner to handle any cases from current operations.
Greer said Desert Storm cases were concluded earlier this year, but his department is still responsible for the more than 80,000 missing and unaccounted for troops from Vietnam, Korea, the Cold War and World War II.
“Each year, the department locates and identifies 80-100 personnel, although more are recovered every year,” said Greer. “Once recovered, the forensic identification work begins at a laboratory in Hawaii. The researchers there work on more than 100 different cases at a time.”
The DPMO is committed to recovering the missing personnel, said Greer, and the office’s motto is “Keeping the Promise.”
“Our mission is part of the nation’s unwritten commitment that ‘we will bring you home,’” said Greer. “When we work with Families with missing personnel from WWII, they are amazed the DoD continues to search for their Family members.”