Hundreds of Missourians who went off to war in the last seventy-five years have never come home. Senator McCaskill thinks the Pentagon’s location, identification, and return efforts are keeping many families from knowing what happened to them.
The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing personnel Office lists 38 Missourians unaccounted for from Vietnam and 207 from the Korean War. Hundreds more are on the list of 73,000 missing from World War II. McCaskill calls the Pentagon’s three-agency system of finding, identifying them, and returning remains “ridiculous,” and points to a General Accountability Office report that backs up her position.
Officials have told her subcommittee that 58,000 missing World War II soldiers might never be identified with today’s technology and 40,000 lost over deep water might never be recoverable. But families are not being told that. “What favor are we doing them?” she has asked Retired Major General W. Montague Winfieldd, who heads the office. He says he has asked the same question and has been told many families won’t give up hope. He has todl the committee, “There has been a reluctance to tell the families that there is no hope that we’re going to find your loved one or that we’re going to be able to bring his remains back home,”
Congress has told the Pentagon it wants 200 remains a year identified and returned. Members of the subcommittee have told the Pentagon they want a system undermined by poor leadership and poor organization fixed, and fast. McCaskill has told the Pentagon officials, “I just want you to hear my voice ringing in your head. Just get it fricking done.”