FREEDOM FLIGHT NEWS
DEPARTMENT OF MN VFW POW-MIA REPORT 9-15-02

Respectfully submitted by James R. Tuorila, PhD. - Dept. of MN POW-MIA Chair

Sept 20th was National POW-MIA Recognition Day so I hope that each one of you took a moment to remember those still missing. I had the honor of representing our Dept Commander and presented a wreath at the Minnesota State Capital ceremony.

Earlier I attended the National VFW POW-MIA Committee meeting in Nashville, TN on 8-26-02 and heard from Jerry Jenkins, Asst. Secretary of Defense for POW-MIA’s, LTC Jerry O’Hara and General Stephen Redmond of JTF-FA. They all gave interesting update of facts and figures concerning SE Asia, China, Russia and Korean recovery missions.

Excavation operations are scheduled for in 2003 in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Korea with ongoing research in Russia, Manchuria and Burma. About 600 sites have been excavated so far since 1992 in SE Asia! For more information, VFW members can reach JTF-FA at their web site, www.pacom.mil/jtffa.htm.

All 14 POW-MIA resolutions were passed. The Dept of Defense has listed 656 of the SE Asia cases as “ No longer pursuit” with 1,036 in “Further pursuit” status, 213 deferred and 15 as having too much ordinance or too rough of terrain to recover.

They also talked about their organization of 160 personnel and the $40 million dollar budget, which will be combined with C1.LHI by late this year or sometime in 2003. They are not expecting any budget reductions in the future.

Two more sets of remains have been identified from Vietnam. They are USAF Capt. Craig B. Schiele and Master Sgt. Thomas E. Heideman of Chicago.

The fate of Capt. Michael Speicher was also discussed. It has been announced that the Bush administration will not send a team of people to Iraq to help resolve the fate of Capt. M. Speicher but instead is awaiting “new, information” before further pursuing this case.

We need your help in making phone calls or faxing letters to our MN Senators asking them to co-sponsor S 1226, the POW-MIA Memorial Flag Act of 2001 which would require that the POW-MIA flag be flown over the Korean, VN and WWII memorials each day that the U.S. flag is displayed.

Bruce Harder has resigned as the VFW Director of National Security and Foreign Affairs and has accepted a position with the Defense POW-MIA Office. No replacement has been named at this time. Updated information though is still available from the Washington office at their web site.

Finally, I have been asked to give the POW-MIA update at the National EX-POW Convention in Rochester, MN on 9-26-02. I am honored to be a part of their program and will also conduct a PTSD seminar later during the convention.

If anyone has any further questions or information please do not hesitate to contact me at 320-252-7208 or email me at 2rala@charter.net

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