OPERATION HOMECOMING 45TH ANNIVERSARY: House Passes Sam Johnson Resolution Calling for Intensified Efforts to Account for Remaining MIAs

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Washington, February 15, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution (H.Res. 129) introduced by 29-year Air Force veteran Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03), which calls for an intensified effort to fully account for and return all American service members who are still listed as “Missing In Action (MIA),” or otherwise unaccounted for.  The House passed the resolution unanimously, 411-0. 

 

The vote occurred during the week of the 45th Anniversary of “Operation Homecoming,” when 591 American Prisoners of War (POWs) were returned from North Vietnam in 1973.  Johnson, a POW for nearly seven years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” was initially listed by the U.S. Air Force as MIA for almost two years after his shoot down in 1966 because the North Vietnamese did not notify the U.S. of POW captures as required by the Geneva Convention. 

 

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), there are still more than 82,000 American service members who remain unaccounted for:

  • World War II – 72,961
  • Korean War – 7,710
  • Vietnam War – 1,601
  • Cold War – 126
  • Iraq & Other Conflicts – 6

During debate on the resolution, Johnson took to the Floor to urge his colleagues to support the measure as well as continue to carry the mantle to push for a full accounting of all America’s missing service members.

 

To watch his full remarks, CLICK HERE. Excerpts from Johnson’s remarks are below.  

 

During my time as an “MIA,” my family was unsure where I was.  Whether I was even alive or dead.  But my devoted bride, Shirley, and countless other families with the “National League of POW/MIA Families” continuously advocated for the return of all our “POWs” and “MIAs” from the Vietnam War.  And it’s because of their tireless work – and by the grace of God – that my fellow “POWs” and I were reunited with our families 45 years ago this week.

 

But Mr. Speaker, we must never forget our troops who still remain “Missing in Action.” And we must never forget their families who anxiously await a final accounting of their loved ones.   In many cases, so much time has gone by that it has fallen to the next generation to repatriate their missing family members.  They deserve our dedicated help and support. 

 

After my return from Vietnam, I vowed to continue to fight for our missing troops and their families.  During my time serving on the “U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs,” I travelled the world to places like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and even to the Russian military archives in Moscow to try and find our missing troops.  And I will never stop fighting.

 

For the families of our troops who remain “Missing in Action,” this resolution is for you…We must remain united in our efforts to recover all of our missing troops and to never forget their sacrifice.

 

I would also urge my colleagues to remember that while I was in the Hanoi Hilton, the North Vietnamese told my fellow POWs and me that our country had forgotten us.  As the days turned into years, we had to fight that fear.  The feeling of being alone and forgotten is horrible.  And the families of POWs and MIAs feel a similar pain.  That’s why I will continue to make every effort to repatriate my missing brothers and sisters in arms and hold true to the promise – “no man left behind.” 

 

But I also call on all current and future Members of Congress to carry the mantle.  We cannot and must not forget the faithful servicemen and women who deserve to be brought home to the country they gave their all to protect.  It is my sincere hope that we will one day bring home all of America’s missing patriots.  These heroes deserve to return to American soil with all of our honor and respect.  And their families deserve the closure of their loved ones that they have awaited for so long. 

 

Specifically, H.Res. 129 calls on the United States government and the Department of Defense to diligently continue efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing U.S. personnel around the world.  It also calls on foreign governments that have information on our missing personnel to cooperate fully with our government. To read the resolution, CLICK HERE.

 

A companion resolution (S.Res. 61) was introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on February 15, 2017.  Both McCain and Johnson were POWs in the Hanoi Hilton and returned to American 45 years ago during “Operation Homecoming.”

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Tags: Veterans