Scathing report on MIA searches no surprise in NH
"This is not news," said Bob Jones of Meredith, director of the Northeast POW/MIA Network. "This has been believed and discussed for years, but who listens? I have no doubt the boots on the ground want to find these soldiers and bring them home, but there's a huge gap between the boots and the suits in Washington. I don't think the suits are working on that at all."
"Am I disappointed? Yes,'' he said. "Am I surprised? No way.
"I'm disappointed as a veteran, I'm disappointed as a member of Rolling Thunder and I'm disappointed as an American."
"We have a sacred obligation to perform this mission well," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters during a news conference last week, according to a transcript at the Department of Defense's website. "We're going to review the concerns raised in the report to see how JPAC is or isn't functioning well. And if steps need to be taken to remedy what's happening inside JPAC, then we'll take action. This is an important mission."
Jones said he has taken issue with JPAC - which has its headquarters in Hawaii and is run by a two-star general - in the past.
"If you ask me, JPAC has been the cover for ineptitude for years and, yes, even corrupt, because honestly, who cares?" said Jones. "Who checks? Who reports on JPAC? It takes the media to get information out about it. How has the POW/MIA issue been handled for years by JPAC? I call it their 'by the passage of time' method. Meaning, in time, all will be forgotten."
Stewart said Rolling Thunder's interactions with JPAC have been cordial, if not informative. The organization annually requests updates on JPAC's efforts to locate MIAs from New Hampshire.
Over the years, New Hampshire has acted to make sure service members are not forgotten. In 2007, a state law was passed requiring that POW-MIA flags fly at all state facilities, National Guard armories and other military sites whenever the U.S. flag is flown.
"We check in with JPAC every few months to ask about the investigations," said Jones. "We get the 'Thank you for your interest' or the 'To whom it may concern' back. The pats on the head, saying they are doing everything they can. "How do we know that? How does anyone? This report that came out is just the start. We have to stay on them. You can't just sit back and wave the flag and think everything's going to be just fine."
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