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JPAC Mission

Cambodia Repatriates Possible American Servicemen
By Harold Hutchison

Cambodia has returned three sets of remains believed to have been American servicemen who were missing in action from the Vietnam War. The three servicemen were among 53 of the 90 MIAs in that country still not accounted for.

According to media reports, the remains were discovered in Kampong Cham province. American forces carried out air strikes in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973, plus a ground invasion in 1970. The last American casualties in Southeast Asia were also suffered in Cambodia.

"To my fellow Americans assembled here today, I am humbled and honored to join with you to pay respect to our fellow countrymen who put our nation's needs above their very lives," U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd, whose father served two tours in the Vietnam War, said at a ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport, where the three remains were handed over to the United States in flag-draped coffins.

The repatriation comes as the DOD’s efforts to account for Americans who went MIA in past wars are being reorganized. “We will establish a new Defense agency that combines the Defense Prisoners of War, Missing Personnel Office, or otherwise known as DPMO, the JPAC office, and select functions of the U.S. Air Force's Life Scientists Equipment Laboratory,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said.

The action comes in the wake of revelations that JPAC carried out mock “repatriation” ceremonies. The agencies only identified 70 remains, about 35% of the capacity the agencies have.