Though the war between the United States and Vietnam has been over for more than forty years, there are more than a thousand Americans who have not yet returned. But they have not been forgotten. Unprecedented efforts between the US and Vietnam to locate these missing men have resulted in finding nearly half of these missing and the search continues to this day.
Four black boxes, four silver caskets, four folded flags. It was a solemn affair on the tarmac at Da Nang airport as the remains of American servicemen were prepared for the long flight back to the United States.Anh and I were invited by JPAC (Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accountability Command) to attend a repatriation ceremony on April 9th. I was impressed by the professionalism that was shown by the team in the handling of the remains. It was indeed an honor to be a part of this event.
One by one, black wooden boxes containing the remains were placed in individual coffins which were then draped with an American flag before being carried to the waiting C-130 transport plane. Though the remains often consist of no more than a single tooth or bone fragment, they are handled with all the dignity and respect deserved by those who have given their all for their country.No names were read or personal tributes offered. The identity of those found must first be confirmed by the forensic team in Hawaii before any names will be released. It's been a long time coming for these men and their families. Hopefully, they can now find peace.