National Alliance of Families


For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen


+ World War II + Korea + Cold War + Vietnam +




BITS 'N' PIECES - September 25, 1999



Dolores Apodaca Alfond

National Chairperson - (dolores@nationalalliance.org)

Voice/Fax 425-881-1499



Lynn O'Shea

New York State Director - (lynn@nationalalliance.org)

Voice/Fax 718-846-4350




The National Alliance of Families mourns the passing of POW/MIA advocate Adrian Fisch, who passed on Monday, September 13,1999, after a long illness. Adrian founded the Red Badge of Courage. Inc., an organization dedicated to the return of our POW/MIAs. He was a true friend to our POW/MIAs and their families. He will be missed. To his wife Janet, sons - Matthew and Andrew, daughter Deanne Montemurno and 5 grandchildren, we offer our deepest sympathy.




DOD and DPMO Shifts the Focus -


1997 - POW/MIA Recognition Day 1997, Secretary of Defense William Cohen stated, in prepared remarks; "Though the years may pass and hopes flare and flicker, our resolve to rescue and account for all Americans, felled or held, remains a steady burning flame..."


1999 - POW/MIA Recognition Day 1999 - No mention of Live POWs. What a difference two years makes. In the DOD/DPMO mindset the issue is now MIAs or MIAs/POWs.


FLASH!!! It's the LIVE POWs, it's POW/MIAs... Men like Capt. John McDonnell and the 5 men with him, left behind in Ba To, Vietnam, in February 1973. It's Roger Dumas and Richard Desautel transported, by the Chinese to God knows where, at the end of the Korean War. McDonnell, Dumas, Desautel and how many more. It's the LIVE POWs.


DOD/DPMO would like us to forget the Live POWs.


It's not going to happen.




Thanks to AmVets For Remembering It's the "Live POWs" - On September 17th, in observance of POW/MIA Recognition Day, AMVETS issued the following statement: "As we honor our POWs and MIAs on this national day of recognition, we do so with a deep sense of gratitude for the sacrifices they made. In our tribute to these brave Americans, we remember those among us who survived the horrors of their cruel confinement as well as those who did not. We also remember those who are still missing in action or who are imprisoned in foreign lands...."




Tomb of the Unknown Dedicated - In ceremonies conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, on POW/MIA Recognition Day, the empty crypt of the Vietnam Unknown was re-dedicated. The crypt now bears the inscription: "Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen."


Notably absent from the re-dedication ceremonies were those most responsible for the identification of Michael Blassie as the Vietnam Unknown. Not invited to the ceremonies were Ted Sampley, publisher of the U.S. Veteran Dispatch and the first to identify the Vietnam Unknown, CBS News Reporter Vince Gonzalez and Eric Engberg, and members of the Blassie family.




No Unknowns - Claiming that there is a possibility to identify all remains currently held ( a claim we dispute) at CIL-HI (Central Identification Laboratory - Hawaii) the Tomb of the Vietnam Unknown remains empty. Does this mean that CIL-HI and the Marine Corp are finally going to do something to identify the remains exhumed from the Yreka Ca. grave in June of 1996?




Why does Johnnie Webb still have a job?




Memo - Then & Now - In the September 4th edition, of Bits N Pieces, we wrote of a State Department memo issued in 1955, regarding Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs. The memo discussed the possibility of POWs left behind at the end of the Korean War. That memo drew the following comment from POW/MIA family member Patricia Plumadore, sister of L/Cpl Kenneth Plumadore:


"Re: Erskine Memo -- I was blown away by the Erskine memo on POW/MIAs in BITS. Nearly half a century later and the vernacular is practically identical. Insert Vessey List, Last Known Alive List, Special Remains List, JTFFA, and it is the same drivel we hear coming from the mouths of our government officials today. State Department Course "POWS--WHO CARES" 101, a must learn for every official tasked with all the bogus accounting and placating the public. It reads like a chronology of what I have lived for the past ten years or more and I got a late start! We are all fighting to try and change attitudes that are so ingrained it will take nothing short of a miracle to bring a stop to this Pavlovian Political Parody. Lord help us! Pat "


Our comment - The more things change, the more they stay the same.




Where are they now -- Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, George Shultz, President Reagan's secretary of State, former National security adviser Brent Scowcroft, and Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Armitage, they are part of the team advising George W. on military policy.


The more things change, the more they stay the same.




Exhumations Begin at The Punchbowl - The remains of 846 Korean War servicemen are currently buried at the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, as Unknown. The 847th Korean Unknown serves in Arlington National Cemetery as the Korean Unknown. According to information obtained by Robert Dumas, brother of POW Roger Dumas some 70- 100 of those Unknowns have name association. In an effort to identify the 100 Unknowns, exhumations began on September 15th.


Strong circumstantial evidence exists pointing to the probable identification of the Korean Unknowns, scheduled for exhumation. CIL-HI and AFDIL (Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory) will use mt-DNA testing to support the circumstantial evidence and a final identification. Given the scientific limitations of mt-DNA testing, this may be the first instance where the use of mt-DNA is properly applied.


Among the first expected identifications are remains believed to be those of Robert E. Mitchell, 19, of Garner Arkansas.




Why stop at 100 - Not scheduled for exhumation are remains associated to Louis Mutta. In spite of repeated request of the Mutta family, supported by the National Alliance of Families, the government refuses to exhume remains associated with Louis Mutta.


CIL-HI claims that the burnt remains believed to be Louis Mutta, can not be tested for mt-DNA. In making this claim, they choose to ignore statements made by their own mt-DNA experts.


Asked if you can tell, just by looking at it, if mt-DNA can be extracted from a bone, AFDIL representative James Cannick stated "By looking at a bone, if you would bring a bone into us and say, Hey, can you get DNA from this, I would not say yes or no. We really don't know until we try."


In later questioning, Mr. Cannick stated that the condition of the bone does not determine the ability to extract mt-DNA. Referring to bone samples, Mr. Cannick said: "We've had some that often look really bad where we've gotten results and other that, you would expect to get results where you don't."


We contacted our own mt-DNA expert, Dr. William Shields. Many of you met Dr. Shields at our 1998 Alliance meeting. Here is what he had to say: "Cannick was correct- CIL-HI mistaken. Burned bone can produce enough undamaged tissue from within to allow for successful mtDNA analysis. Such tests have been successfully done on actual cremated remains- so one will not know until the extraction is performed and the amplification attempted whether good DNA can be had from such samples. The smaller the remain, the less likely the success. Hope this helps. Bill"


Our question - Why won't the government attempt an identification

of remains believe to be Louis Mutta?




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