The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

July/August 2005
Veterans Initiative Task Force Report
   
 

The Ticking Clock

BY ROBERT MARAS, CHAIR

After a dozen years of extensive work with the Joint POW-MIA Command (JPAC) and with veterans in the United States, Australia, and Vietnam—along with government and non-governmental organizations—the Veterans Initiative Task Force is proud to report that the remains of eleven U.S. Marines and one Special Forces soldier who perished at Ngoc Tavak have been recovered, and that five have been positively identified. The men were killed in 1968 in one of the most ferocious battles of the war at Ngoc Tavak, part of the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp. The battle resulted in the largest number of missing Americans associated with any battle during the Vietnam War.

In the last dozen years the VITF has made 16 trips to Vietnam and has provided information to the Vietnamese Veterans Association on 8,694 Vietnamese KIAs; 1,086 Vietnamese prisoners; and two Vietnamese MIAs. JPAC reports that the information provided to the Vietnamese about their missing encourages the cooperation of Vietnamese in providing information about American missing.

The latest trip, in October 2004, was a success. Leaders of the Vietnamese Veterans Association took us to a location outside of Camp Carroll in Quang Tri Province were they showed us a mass grave site containing the remains of between 50 and 60 Vietnamese. This excavation came about as a result of  information provided to the Veterans Initiative Task Force and turned over to the Vietnamese. We were thanked for our continued efforts to help the Vietnamese find their missing from the war. The Vietnamese promised to continue to help us in our search for missing Americans and grave sites.

It has been through this mutual respect and cooperation that the Veterans Initiative has been able to do its work in Vietnam. The more information we are able to provide the Vietnamese about their missing, the more they try to gather information on missing Americans and provide JPAC with information.

We are all aware that the clock is ticking and time is our enemy. Memories fade, people die, and with them, the possibility of information that could account for missing Americans also diminishes. This is why it is crucial that we continue our missions to Vietnam. We continue to ask all Vietnam veterans to search for information on possible missing Vietnamese. Please send the information to us so that we can take it to the Vietnamese on our trips and continue to help them help us.

The Veterans Initiative is working hard planning our next trip. We set the timing of the trips with the amount of  information that has been sent into the national office. Once we have enough information, we can set a trip date and select the team. The next trip probably will take place in September. We will start in Hanoi, and we will work south from there.

I want to give a special thanks to Tim Brown for his steadfast determination in the work on the Ngoc Tavak cases  A true Marine gung ho. I want to thank Tom Corey for asking me to serve as chair of the Veterans Initiative Task Force during the last two years and the members of the Veterans Initiative for their help and support. If we work together, we can accomplish great things. Let's keep up the good work. My heartfelt thanks to all.

   

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