Saturday, October 15, 2011
For the first time since the program started in 1995, the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) came to Wichita to keep family members informed on those still missing.
Throughout the year, many family members travel to the nation's capital to get an update on their loved ones. On Saturday, the program came for the nearly 120 family members in attendance, who cannot travel the distance.
"They want to know too and I think it's really, really important for us to do this. I'm just happy they came to Wichita to do it," said Sue Boots.
Sue's brother, Lt. Charles "Charlie" Fryer, was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In 1966, during his second tour of duty, his plane was shot down over the ocean and his body has not been found.
"He would be now 72 years old. That just seems incredible because he's definitely been frozen in time," said Sue.
There are 133 unaccounted Kansas service members from Vietnam, Korea, and Cold War. About 73,000 U.S. service members are still missing from World War II.
"Even if their loved one was missing from World War II or many, many years ago, this is something that still really affects their life and they want to know the answers to what happened to their loved one," said Jessica Pierno with the DPMO.
The day-long program allows family members to get updates and give mitochondrial DNA to identify the remains recovered overseas. Those like Sue hope their DNA may some day help bring Charlie back home.
"We certainly miss him. We all wonder what his life would've been like," said Sue.
The DPMO conducts eight traveling programs a year. The next program is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Savannah, Georgia.
To learn more about the program, click here.