A table for the Missing Man sits in the Cross Hall Galley on Naval Submarine Base New London in observation of POW/MIA Recognition Day. U.S. Navy photo.

We Cannot Forget Our POW/MIAs

By John Bates, VietNow National POW/MIA Chairperson

POW/MIA emblemHave you ever said, “It seems just like yesterday”? Well, I think every one of us, at some time or another, has said it. And it seems just like yesterday that, as a young sailor, I was there when they commissioned the USS Niagara Falls – on the 29th of April, 1967.

And yes, this year, in April, we mark fifty years since the ship was commissioned, and many of us will gather in Niagara Falls, New York, this year to commemorate the occasion.

For the last fifty years I have been fortunate to know what the ship’s status was and where she sailed – as well as keeping in touch with my fellow shipmates. But what about some of our fellow sailors, soldiers, and airmen whose families haven’t been as fortunate to know what happened to them? Our heroes who failed to return from the battlefield and still this day we have still not heard the truth as to their fate.

Interest in POW/MIA issue is waning

Beginning in 1973, and continuing up to this date, families and friends of the missing have not given up hope – but interest and support on the part of the general public has weakened considerably.

If you stop someone on the street and ask them about the POW/MIA question – what happened to those men – chances are they will say something like, “Didn’t they all come home?” Or they might ask, “What are you talking about?”

Those are just some of the responses I have received as people just don’t know about the struggle to find the truth about our POW/MIAs.

Over the years our government has told us that they have been trying to find these men, but we have found that they have told us mostly half-truths and lies.

While dedicated men and women in the fields of operations in those areas of battle continue digging for answers. some of our government officials have hidden the facts from the families.

Families and organizations need help

Many of the real facts have come through the continuing efforts of individual family members and a network of family members working together to find answers.

Roger Hall’s Studies Solutions Results, Inc. has sued the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act. Donations are the engine that keeps this and others going – along with the National Alliance of Families organization, who have helped with the work of digging into the files of the missing men. They also need help from your donations. And don’t forget the POW Network that provides a database of POW/MIAs, and VietNow also can be added to your help list.

Why did I mention these organizations? Every year that goes by, more people forget this important issue, and their donations become smaller – thus we all need to continue our support – knowing that the government is waiting for the POW/MIA issue to die. But we won’t let this happen. We just need more support for these organizations. Look and see if you can help. If you need more information about this and other issues, contact VietNow National.


I received a note from Mary Schantag of the POW Network about a statement in the last issue of this magazine where I mentioned the two hundred identifications by the DPAA per year. Mary said a misconception is that per-year amount. but Congress mandated the ability to identify two-hundred a year. Thanks, Mary for the information.

Here is a list where you can find more information or make a donation:

VietNow National


National Alliance

POW Network

Read more stories about the POW/MIA issue.


John Bates, VietNow National POW/MIA ChairJohn Bates, USNR serves as a VietNow National Director and as the VietNow National POW/MIA Chair.