Families of Missing Vets Seek Answers

POW*MIA Emblem | Image by OGI75/Shutterstock

Hundreds of families came to Dallas on Saturday, hoping to learn the fate of their loved ones who disappeared while serving in the military and remain missing.

More than 81,500 American soldiers went missing during their service and have not been found, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), an agency within the Department of Defense (DOD) whose mission is to “provide the fullest possible accounting” of missing military personnel to their families.

From Texas alone, more than 4,100 soldiers remain unaccounted for, as far back as World War II, reported NBC 5 DFW.

The more than 200 families from Texas and surrounding states gathered as the DPAA shared the accounts of soldiers whose records have been recently recovered and updated families on the cases of their relatives that are still being researched.

“It’s very complicated,” DPAA Director Kelly McKeague told NBC 5. “Many of these missing have been gone for 80 years in the case of World War II.”

“It begins with historical analysis and research, transitioning to hopefully a field recovery, and then hopefully an identification forensically in one of two laboratories,” he continued.

“We are one of the few countries that do this,” McKeague added. “It defines us as a country that here we are decades later, still searching, still finding, simply because we have a sacred obligation that these men and women sacrifice their lives for our freedoms today, that we owe it to them and their families that if we can do anything humanly possible to bring them home, it’s our responsibility, our moral imperative.”

One person the DPAA is helping is Heather O’Kane, whose great-uncle, Beauron O’Kane, served in World War II.

Beauron served as a gunner in the Navy and was just 19 years old when he was shot down in Singapore. Beauron and 11 crew members with him that day remain missing.

“It’s been 78 years,” Heather O’Kane said. “My grandmother’s 91, and she’s the last living family member that knew him personally. Getting to have that closure for her would just mean so much to our family.”

O’Kane said her family is in “constant communication” with the DPAA.

“We have family meetings with them,” she continued, according to NBC 5. “Once or twice a year, we also email them about updates. They’ve been really great.”

The Dallas Express reached out to the DPAA for additional information but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.

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