Chairman's Enlisted Advisor Visits Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
By Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii, Dec. 16, 2005 The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command enlisted members, thanking and encouraging them to continue their work for the nation, during a visit here Dec. 14.
"I am proud to be a member of your team," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. William "Joe" Gainey. "Anyone who is dedicated to the cause of bringing home our fallen comrades is a true American hero, with all capital letters."
He told the group their work of identifying the recovered remains of missing servicemembers is admirable and not forgotten by those in uniform and family members who still wait for the news their family member has been identified.
A mission briefing during the sergeant major's visit explained the command's five emphasis areas of data analysis, technical negotiations with other countries, investigations of possible recovery sites, recovery of remains and identification of those remains. The briefing also noted the number of servicemembers missing in action from World War I to the only current MIA from the Gulf War, Navy Cmdr. Scott Speicher.
Upon hearing that only one servicemember is considered MIA, Gainey pulled a photo from his wallet of Army Sgt. Matt Maupin, a reservist whose whereabouts have not been known since 2004. Gainey received the photo from a junior soldier a couple of months after Maupin went missing in Iraq.
"I carry the photo as part of my military bearing and to remind me that there is one soldier that hasn't came home with his unit," said Gainey, who was the Multinational Corps Iraq command sergeant major when Maupin went missing. "It is very clear it is my obligation to continue to carry it until he is found."
Gainey expressed his concern about actions being taken to recover Maupin, who, along with two DoD contractors, went missing in Iraq in April 2004 following an ambush to their convoy. The remains of one of the contractors were located and identified in January. Maupin's current status is missing-captured. He and six other missing DoD personnel are the subject of ongoing efforts in Iraq by U.S. Central Command, the Army, U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. intelligence community and others to locate and recover them. DoD is committed to returning home with honor all its missing from past, present, and future conflicts, officials said.
Reaffirming DoD's commitment, Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said on Sept. 16, "The brave men and women who serve today - whether in Afghanistan or Iraq or in other theaters - can do so with the full confidence that if they are captured, become missing or fall in battle, this nation will spare no effort to bring them home. That, too, is our solemn pledge - however long it takes, whatever it takes, whatever the cost, we will bring them home."
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan is assigned to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)