POW/MIA News Digest, 2011-2013
August 2, 2013
Following his return from a mission to attempt the recovery of the remains of a friend whose plane was shot down during the Korean War, Captain Thomas Hudner has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry relaying North Korea's wish to resume the joint U.S.-DPRK remains recovery operations that were suspended in 2005. In his letter, Hudner said the officials of the Korean People's Army told him "they wish for this humanitarian mission to continue regardless of the larger political issues."
July 29, 2013
The AP reports that retired Navy Captain Thomas Hudner left North Korea without finding the remains of a friend and comrade who had died in the Korean War. Ensign Jesse Brown, who had served as Hudner's wingman, was shot down in December 1950 and was ultimately unable to escape his aircraft. Hudner crashed his own plan in an unsuccessful attempt to save Brown, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. The road to the site where Brown and Hudner crashed was reportedly washed away by recent floods, and the site was inaccessible during Hudner's trip. Additional news on this story is availablehere.
March 21, 2012
The Washington Post reports that the US is suspending planned remains recovery missions in North Korea. Spokespersons for the Pentagon cited the DPRK's planned satellite launch, bellicose statements about South Korea, and linkage of the missions to US-ROK joint military exercises led to the decision to suspend the operations. The US left open the possibility of resuming the missions if the situation improves.
March 8, 2012
The Associated Press reports that the US military is preparing to begin POW/MIA remains recovery missions in North Korea. A US ship transporting equipment arrived in the country earlier this month, and a US advance team is expected to arrive soon; searches are expected to begin in April. A Pentagon spokesperson said that North Korea would receive $5.7 million for four missions to last through September, compensation for services including food, fuel, labor, transportation, water, and security.
January 26, 2012
The Washington Post, citing a letter from Sen Richard Lugar to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reports that operations to recovery the remains of US POW/MIAs killed in North Korea will begin in March. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that by March 1, the North Korean military will begin preparations for the arrival later that month of a US advance team, which will evaluate conditions and prepare for the operations.
The Washington Post reports that, in the wake of Kim Jong-il's death, the future of the remains recovery missions in North Korea agreed to in October remains uncertain. “We’re just trying to remain positive, and believe that the recovery agreement will hold,” said Rick Downes, president of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs. “It’s something the North Koreans have wanted for a long time now, and I would think they still want that.”
October 20, 2010
After three days of negotiations in Bangkok, the Defense Department has released a statement announcing that US and North Korea have reached an arrangement to resume operations to recover the remains of US servicemen unaccounted for during the Korean War. Under the agreement, US teams will work in two areas of North Korea: Unsan County, and around the Chosin Reservoir.
October 17, 2011
The Associated Press reports that Pentagon officials will meet with their North Korean counterparts in Bangkok this week to resume efforts to identify and repatriate the remains of US troops unaccounted for during the Korea War. The US delegation will be led by Robert J. Newberry, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs. The remains recovery program, initiated in 1996, was suspended in 2005 amid rising tensions between North Korea and the United States.
August 19, 2011
North Korean officials have announced their willingness to begin talks to resume remains recovery operations of American POW/MIAs unaccounted for during the Korean War, reports the Washington Post. The North Korean announcement signaled the most progress on the re-opening the issue since the US halted the program in 2005.
August 9, 2011
The U.S. recently sent a letter to the North Korean government requesting the resumption of remains recovery operations in North Korea, the New York Times reports. Citing a spokeswoman from the Pentagon’s Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the article states North Korean officials recently contacted the United States to indicate that they would look favorably upon a request to resume the recovery of remains.
January 18, 2011
North Korean officials have signaled an interest in opening discussions to restart operations to recover the remains of US POW/MIAs from the Korean War, CNN reports. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who visited Pyongyang in December 2010, told a CNN crew that “the North Koreans started out by saying, ‘you know, if we can better our relationship, we can give you more remains of your soldiers.’”
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