VFW Visits Chinese Military Archives
Access is what VFW provides the POW/MIA accounting mission
May 29, 2012
After several years of coordination, a senior delegation from the Veterans of
Foreign Wars of the U.S. was permitted inside the Chinese military archives in
Beijing today. The visit is the first time representatives from any
nongovernmental organization have entered the People’s Liberation Army’s
was a unique honor that we hope will further our government’s effort to return
unaccounted-for American servicemen home to their families,” said VFW Senior
Vice Commander John E. Hamilton, who was accompanied by VFW Adjutant General
Allen F. “Gunner” Kent.
is nearing the end of a three-week, fact-finding mission to the Far East. It
began May 16 in Hawaii with briefings and tours of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command, U.S. Pacific Command and Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, plus visits
with VFW Department of Hawaii members. From there they flew to Bangkok for
meetings with JPAC’s Detachment 1, a courtesy call with U.S. Ambassador to
Thailand Kristie Kenney, and visits with VFW Department of the Pacific District
Hanoi, Vietnam, the VFW delegation met with U.S. Ambassador David Shear and
JPAC’s Detachment 2, before traveling south to Da Nang to personally thank a
joint U.S.-Vietnamese recovery team at an MIA loss site outside the city. It
was the VFW’s 22nd consecutive visit to Vietnam, dating back to 1991, four
years prior to the U.S. Embassy being opened.
Beijing, Hamilton met with the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang and the
U.S. defense attaché, Air Force Brig. Gen. David Stillwell, as well as with
officials from the Chinese Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, before
touring the archives, which may potentially contain records about the fate of
many missing Americans dating back to World War II.
VFW senior vice commander toured the archives for well over an hour. He was
shown where the records are kept, copied and recorded. He was also shown where
Chinese personnel were working on cases of missing Americans from previous wars
and conflicts at the request of U.S. government agencies, principally the
Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office.
said the archivists were very helpful in answering his questions, plus he was
able to tour any part of the facility without restriction. The archivists said
they look forward to VFW visiting them next year.
is what the VFW provides to America’s full accounting mission,” said VFW
National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer, whose trip to Beijing last year helped
lay the final groundwork for this year’s visit.
“Returning our fallen to their loved ones is at its
very soul a humanitarian mission, and the VFW can open new doors because we are
not politicians or government employees who have to follow a strict protocol,”
he said. “What we began with Vietnam in 1991 branched into Russia in 2004 and
now China, and we are very grateful that every foreign official along the way
has understood and shared our commitment to returning all fallen warriors home
to their families.”
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