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Deputy Secretary of Defense Hicks Remarks at the National POW/MIA Recognition Day Poster Unveiling (As Delivered)

Thank you for that introduction Mr. McKeague.  And thank you for your leadership, and for the work that your team does.  Like Secretary Austin said earlier this year, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has, “a more profound impact . . . than you can imagine.”

I’d like to welcome the families with us this morning, as well as the representatives of our veteran’s organizations.  Your strong advocacy continues to contribute to the vigorous pursuit of the POW/MIA mission at the Department of Defense.   

I am especially pleased to welcome former Vietnam POW, Colonel Michael Brazelton from the U.S. Air Force who – incredibly – spent 2,402 days in captivity.   It is great to have you back in the Pentagon.

Since the Revolutionary War, more than 500,000 U.S. Service Members have been held as POWs. 

From World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom – 81,900 U.S. personnel remain unaccounted for. 

December 7th of this year will mark the 80th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War II.  Today, approximately 72,000 U.S. personnel remain unaccounted for from that conflict. 

On this day in 1953 – three years after the start of the Korean War – the United Nations Command reached an armistice with China and North Korea to cease hostilities.  More than 7,500 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

And this year marks the 36th anniversary of the first U.S. – Vietnam joint field operation to recover U.S. missing personnel.  This was an activity that pre-dated normalization of relations by 10 years.  More than 1,500 U.S. personnel remain missing from the Vietnam War.

Make no mistake – working closely with partner nations, the Department of Defense is firmly committed to the fullest possible accounting for those U.S. personnel who remain missing.  We owe nothing less to the families who continue to wait for answers about the loss of their loves ones.     

Quoting Vietnam Veterans of America National President, John Rowan, the POW/MIA “flag symbolizes our Nation’s commitment to resolving the fates of those still listed as prisoner, missing, and unaccounted for from all conflicts.”

This Administration is carrying out the Nation’s enduring commitment to our POW and MIA sisters and brothers in a number of ways.    

You’ll recall that this past April – on National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day – President Biden restored the POW/MIA flag atop the White House.   

And in his March 4 “Message to the Force,” Secretary Austin explained that “taking care of our people” is a top priority for the Department of Defense.  That means ensuring the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has the resources it needs to carry out its vital mission.

Commitment, then, is a fitting theme for this year’s POW/MIA poster: “America’s Commitment, Globally Fulfilled.”

On September 17th, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, events will take place all across the United States, and at U.S. facilities worldwide.  It is a time when we honor those U.S. personnel who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing from past wars, and their families. 

And the Recognition Day poster that we are about to unveil sustains awareness of the sacrifices of our POWs and MIAs.  It is an homage – a reminder of our commitment – to the noble mission of full accounting of our missing and providing answers to their families.

Thank you for joining with us today.  It is a sign of your own commitment, and our Nation’s, to our POWs and MIAs.

With that, I believe that we will unveil the poster.