The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 8, 2013

AP IMPACT: MIA work 'acutely dysfunctional'

Largely beyond the public spotlight, the decades-old pursuit of bones and other MIA evidence is sluggish, often duplicative and subjected to too little scientific rigor

(Continued)

"Certainly we understand that these operations were never meant to see the light of day," the film says.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied it received American POWs from Korea.

Mark Sauter, a private researcher and co-author with John Zimmerlee of "American Trophies and Washington's Cynical Attitude," an e-book about POWs to be published this month, found in government archives a U.S. intelligence report from August 1955, two years after the war, calling for a bigger intelligence effort to learn about such POW transfers.

"Continued and numerous fragmentary intelligence reports give credence to possible detention of a large number of American POWs in China, Manchuria, U.S.S.R., and North Korea," it said. It cited one "significant report" describing "a large number of U.S. POWs being shipped into U.S.S.R. by rail" from northeast China.

Accounting for the nation's war dead has been a politically charged issue for decades. The debate is not about the practicality of the mission, which some might question, but how it should be pursued.

Sometimes overlooked amid the squabbling is the emotional toll on the families of the missing. They are often bewildered by the bureaucracy and left to watch hope wear away with the passage of time.

In 1975, more than two decades after Pfc. Kenneth F. Reese was declared missing in Korea, his widow, Chris Tench, who had by then remarried, described her feelings in her local newspaper, the Gastonia (N.C) Gazette.

She wrote that initially she was relieved to realize that the policeman who delivered the news about Reese on Dec. 18, 1950, was saying that her husband was missing, not dead. He might turn up alive, she recalled thinking.

Later she thought differently.

"No, missing isn't dead," she wrote. "It's worse than dead."

Follow Robert Burns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/robertburnsAP

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