It's true that after the war ended and all POWs had been accounted for, there were still 2,646 Americans listed as missing in action. But -- and this is not to minimize the profound effect this must have had on the families involved -- you have to understand that there's a long list of MIAs after every war. For instance, there were more than 20 times as many (70,000 plus) after World War II, but nobody assumed the Germans or Japanese had them stashed away somewhere. They're just presumed dead, and their families do their best to move on.
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"We've mourned enough, now let's boom a baby into you."
So why did it become an issue after Vietnam? Well, first off, the Nixon administration. Nixon elevated the issue for two reasons: so that getting them back could serve as a substitute for victory in Vietnam, and -- unlike the returning soldiers who criticized the war -- the POWs and their families still supported the war effort by default, thereby serving as heroic endorsers of Nixon's policies.
Subsequent investigations have been successful in discovering the remains of 998 of those 2,646 MIAs -- they've even managed to identify the soldier previously buried in the Tomb of the Unknown. For their part, Vietnamese officials have offered assistance in putting the remaining soldiers to rest as they also search for their own MIAs ... all 300,000 of them.
Linda D. Kozaryn/American Forces Press Service
"This would go a lot faster without all this rain, RAIDEN."