Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sybil Stockdale and The National League of P.O.W. & M.I.A. Families

In 1970 Sybil Stockdale, who was the wife of an American Vietnam War Navy pilot who became a prisoner of war, co-foundered the National League of Families, a non-profit organization that worked on behalf of American Vietnam soldiers M.I.A (Missing in Action) and P.O.W (Prisoner of War) Families. The aim of the National League of Families was to have M.I.A and P.O.W returned safely to their families. In 1973 “Operation Homecoming” took effect and 591 American P.O.W.s returned home although there were still more than 2,000 Americans still listed as missing. Sybil Stockdale received the U.S. Navy Department's Distinguished Public Service Award. Sybil Stockdale and her husband James Stockdale co-authored "In Love and War: the Story of a Family's Ordeal and Sacrifice During the Vietnam War".

The Nixon Administration and the Vietnamese Governments concluded that all P.O.W.s had been freed but there were some veterans and families of missing soldiers who disagreed with this and this sparked conflict between the U.S. Government and U.S. Citizens. Evidence emerged which kept hopes high that there was still soldiers alive in Vietnam because of thousands of live sightings of American soldiers in Vietnam which were reported after the war ended. In 1980, the U.S. set up a rescue mission after a report of 30 American soldiers working on a prison road crew in Laos but press leaks stopped the rescue mission before it had started.

Since the end of the war the U.S. government have led investigations and have concluded that there were no American soldiers still alive in Vietnam. Some of the Families of the M.I.A and P.O.W insisted that a soldier should only be considered dead if there was physical evidence. As a result of the families and veterans determination of not giving up on this issue, Bob Dornan, in 1996 presented to Congress a provision to the U.S. defense budget which requires that the pentagon review the status of a missing soldier every three years. The law also states that there must be evidence which proves the death of a M.I.A. soldier.

There is still an issue of M.I.A. and P.O.W. advocates demanding that more needs to be done to find records and the remains on the missing soldiers who were held captive or killed during the time of and since the Vietnam war. It seems that the issue between some advocates' and the U.S. government is that the government have seemed to have moved on and forgotten about the war but the families who had lost their loved ones and have never received confirmation of their deaths or their bodies to bury them they feel as though they're an issue of the past and everyone has moved on and forgotten about what happened.

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