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POW/MIA Databases & Documents

In December 1991, Congress enacted Public Law 102-190, commonly referred to as the McCain Bill. The statute requires the Secretary of Defense to make available to the public--in a "library like setting"--all information relating to the treatment, location, and/or condition (T-L-C) of United States personnel who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. The facility chosen to receive this information was the Library of Congress (LoC). The Federal Research Division (FRD) created the PWMIA Database, the online index to those documents. The microfilmed documents themselves are available at the Library of Congress or borrowed through local libraries.

The mission of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) is to exercise policy, control, and oversight within DoD for the entire process for investigation and recovery related to missing persons; coordinate for DoD with other departments and agencies of the United States on all matters concerning missing persons; and establish procedures to be followed by DoD boards of inquiry. DPMO sends redacted documents to FRD for indexing and microfilming.

In March 1992, the U.S. – Russia Joint Commission on POWs and MIAs (USRJC) was established by direction of the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation to serve as a forum through which both nations seek to determine the fate of their missing servicemen. DPMO provides direct analytical, investigative, and administrative support to the USJRC through the Joint Commission Support Directorate. The Commission’s objectives are to determine whether American servicemen are being held against their will on the territory of the former Soviet Union and, if so, to secure their immediate release and repatriation; to locate and return to the United States the remains of any deceased American servicemen interred in the former Soviet Union; and to ascertain the facts regarding American servicemen who were not repatriated and whose fate remains unresolved.

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  The Library of Congress >> Especially for Researchers >> Research Centers
  September 8, 2008
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