Since the renewal of U.S. POW/MIA recovery efforts in the 1970s, the remains of nearly 1,000 Americans killed in World War II have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Our research and operational missions include coordination with hundreds of countries and municipalities around the world. As this map shows, at present, more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts.
While the Committee has some evidence suggesting the possibility a POW may have survived to the present, and while some information remains yet to be investigated, there is, at this time, no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.
STATUS OF THE POW/MIA ISSUE: October 24, 2022
1,582 Americans are now listed by DPAA as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War: Vietnam - 1,242; Laos–285; Cambodia-48; Peoples Republic of China territorial waters–7. (These numbers fluctuate due to investigations resulting in changed locations of loss.)
The South Korean government estimates that 560 South Korean POWs still survive in North Korea. This number is based upon analysis of various testimonies from defectors and former POWs who managed to escape North Korea.
Both the Nixon administration and the Vietnamese government concluded that all living P.O.W./M.I.A.s had been returned. Some veterans and families of missing soldiers insisted otherwise. Thus began a long period of conflict between the U.S. government and its citizens over the M.I.A. issue.
As a first matter, POWs receive back pay that accrued during their period of captivity. They were on active duty, possibly in a combat zone, and are entitled to all the pay that they earned during that time regardless of their captive status.
Missing in action. Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. At the end of the war, there were approximately 79,000 Americans unaccounted for. This number included those buried with honor as unknowns, officially buried at sea, lost at sea, and missing in action.
The United States suffered approximately 36,500 casualties, making up over 90% of non-Korean UN losses. Of those, over 7,500 personnel remain unaccounted for as of June 2022.
Often cited as the last verified American POW from the Vietnam War, Garwood was taken to North Vietnam in 1969, and reportedly was released in 1973 along with the other U.S. POWs as part of the Paris Peace Accords. However, he did not return to the United States until March 22, 1979.
Following the end of the war, the Japanese government started a project to recover the soldiers' bones in 1952 on Iwoto. But only 10,000 of the war dead have been unearthed and sent to commemorative facilities and their families, meaning that remains of more than 10,000 have not been retrieved.
Dozens of remains are recovered every year, but about 12,000 Japanese are still classified as missing in action and presumed killed on the island, along with 218 Americans.
When the war ended, graves registration soldiers still had work to do—scouring battlefields for hastily buried bodies that had been overlooked. In the European Theater, the bodies were scattered over 1.5 million square miles of territory; in the Pacific, they were scattered across numerous islands and in dense jungles.
During the Vietnam War Monika Schwinn, a German nurse, was held captive for three and a half years - at one time the only woman prisoner at the "Hanoi Hilton". The following missionaries were POWs: Evelyn Anderson, captured and later burned to death in Kengkok, Laos, 1972.
In 1976, the Viet Cong was disbanded after Vietnam was formally reunited under communist rule.
Floyd Thompson, USA Special Forces, POW for nearly nine years, and the longest held prisoner of war in American history.
At one time distributed by the National League of Families, bracelets are now available from a decades-long strong issue-supporter, the nonprofit, Ohio Chapter MIA-POW (see address below) which donates 100% of all proceeds to help sustain the League's efforts.
The current number of personnel missing from operations in Iraq and the Persian Gulf being actively pursued by DPAA is five—two service members from Desert Storm, and three DoD contractors from Iraqi Freedom.
On July 27, 1953, North Korea, China, and the United States signed an armistice agreement. South Korea, however, objected to the continued division of Korea and did not agree to the armistice or sign a formal peace treaty. So while the fighting ended, technically the war never did.
The major initiative in the Lyndon Johnson presidency was the Vietnam War. By 1968, the United States had 548,000 troops in Vietnam and had already lost 30,000 Americans there.
Collectively the United States often called them the Viet Cong. It was commonly shortened to VC, which in military alphabet code was spoken as Victor Charlie. It was further shortened to just Charlie. American soldiers called them Charlie, they called themselves liberators.
The 199th Infantry Brigade is most notable for its participation in combat operations during the Vietnam War.