Agency that hunts for America's war dead turns 5
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE — The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) recognized their fifth anniversary with a short ceremony on Wednesday morning.
To mark the event, JPAC team members massed on "Heroes Green" outside JPAC headquarters for a group photo and cake-cutting event, according to a JPAC news release.
The mission of JPAC is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of our nation's past conflicts.
"JPAC teams have spanned the globe operating in over 30 countries in the past five years," JPAC Commander Rear Adm. Donna Crisp said in the news release.
Over its lifetime, JPAC and its predecessors conducted more than 368 recovery and investigation missions around the globe. Some of the countries JPAC teams have operated in include: China, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Canada, Palau, Albania, Philippines, Newfoundland, Papua New Guinea, Germany, Hungary, France, Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, India and Japan.
The Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) was formed after the Vietnam War in 1973. JCRC worked in concert with the newly formed Central Identification Laboratory, Thailand (CIL-THAI), which handled the remains and identification of Americans killed during the war.
By 1976, a downsizing of U.S. forces in Thailand classified CIL-THAI and JCRC personnel as military, rather than humanitarian. That decision resulted in relocation of the operations to Hawaii, with the lab name changed to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawai'i (CILHI). At this time, CILHI's mission was broadened to include the search, recovery and identification of service members killed in Korea, WW II and any concluded future conflicts.
JCRC continued operation until 1992, when it became Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA). This change was partly due to an increased interest from the U.S. government as well as the public in missing in action (MIA) recovery, meanwhile Southeast Asian countries showed an increased willingness to allow access to records, files and witnesses concerning unaccounted for Americans.
In 2002, the Department of Defense concluded that POW/MIA accounting efforts would best be served by combining JTF-FA and CILHI.
On Oct. 1, 2003, the U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory-Hawai'i and U.S. Pacific Command's Joint Task Force Full Accounting were merged into JPAC.