Petition Closed
Petitioning White House The President of the United States

Mr. President: Resolve the mysteries surrounding the Forgotten Men of the Forgotten War.

                     Missing is quite different than having been killed

 2013

  “.... we remember our sacred obligation ….. to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or who are held as prisoners of war.”

                              President Obama, Memorial Day

 "The United States … rebuffed a North Korean offer to reopen talks on finding U.S. soldiers missing since the Korean War ..."

                              Reuters / Jan 28, 2010

The promise to learn what has happened to American soldiers still missing-in-action from the Korean War has once again been reduced to a patriotic sound byte.  This petition calls upon the President of the U.S. to return this sacred obligation to a working policy. It calls upon him to be the President history will show resolved the mysteries surrounding nearly 8000 missing fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and uncles left behind after the Korean War.

American rhetoric prides itself in the promise to leave no soldier behind. Yet, thousands of men have been left behind. Nearly 8000 of them from the Korean War are currently on the government’s back-burner, after being abandoned by previous administrations for decades. The families of these men are left to wonder if the government these men sacrificed their futures for, their lives, has once again become as much a part of the problem as it should be the solution.

The difference-maker will be broadening support among all Americans, with acknowledgement from people around the world. Each signature to this petition sends an email to the White House that says resolving the fate of these men is a promise that all people honor and insist be fulfilled. 

These broad issues need to be addressed:

 Americans Left In Captivity

  * Resolve the mysteries surrounding documented reports that soldiers were left behind in captivity following the Korean War;

 Remains Recovery

 * Resume search and recovery operations in North Korea, and negotiate the establishment of interview programs with North Korean eyewitnesses to many of the missing men’s fate;

  Archival Research

  * Declassify, research, report and act upon all documents relating to missing men from the Korean War, including foreign archives.

The mission to address these issues has reached a virtual standstill. Volatile domestic and foreign policies are in-play. The humanitarian nature of the mission has been back-pocketed, creating an ever-lengthening period of inaction.  If President Obama is to honor his promise to learn the fate of these forgotten men of the forgotten war, who served their country and then were left to unknown circumstance, his pledge must stand tall in the face of difficult choices and become consistent policy. 

The promise to learn the men’s fate is the same promise made to today’s servicemen and women and their families. If this promise is to hold credibility for these present day soldiers, it must be honored for those who served before them.

You are invited to join this petition (right side of this page) and become part of this promise. Thank you. And welcome!

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(Further information)

The accounting mission is not simply a backward look toward missed opportunities. These issues are intertwined with current political policies, particularly the adversarial relations between the U.S. and North Korea. Utilizing the recovery of these missing men as a path to peace will bring meaning to the sacrifice they, and their families, have made.

      Background

The Korean War is one of those unique wars that never ended. While the Armistice in 1953 brought a ceasefire, a peace treaty was never signed. For decades, our enemies remained enemies and denied any knowledge of missing soldiers.

When the numbers were tallied, over 8,000 American soldiers alone were missing. Some had been seen alive in captivity yet never returned. Some were thought left for dead in the desperation of overrun battlefields. Some were presumed lost to the horrors of prisoner-of-war camps. Hundreds of men’s remains were unidentifiable at the time and were buried on American soil as unknowns. Too many others were simply missing. Most disturbing were foreign sourced reports that soldiers were transferred to the Soviet Union and never returned.

     "From December 1951 up to the end of April 1952, several railway transports of American and European (probably British) P.O.W.s were seen passing at intervals of 10 to 20 days through the Komi-Permyak National District in Northwestern Siberia."

                              CIA Intelligence Report / September 1952

The U.S. demanded answers, but the cold-shoulder of the Cold War only produced blanket denials. Congressional hearings were convened. One undeniable conclusion was that the regimes in China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea had credible knowledge regarding the fate of too many of the missing men. The families of the men insisted that more be done, and the media followed. The Iron Curtain proved to be formidable, however. Political priorities prevailed, interest waned, and the missing men, alive or not, were written off as casualties-of-war. The families were left to reconcile a loved one’s official pronouncement of death with the ever-present hope that he might walk through the front door any day.

      Change In Policy

When the Berlin Wall came down, the Iron Curtain became more transparent. Russia’s President Yeltsin confirmed that prisoners-of-war had been, in fact, taken to the former Soviet Union.

     "Our archives have shown this to be true. Some of them were transferred to the territory of the former U.S.S.R. and were kept in labor camps.”

                              NBC Dateline Interview / June 1992

Family members of the Korean War’s MIAs organized and called on the government’s standing promise to learn the fate of their missing loved ones. Congress responded. Hearings were held. Testimony was heard:

     “I compiled the evidence, I was receiving this daily, that prisoners had not been returned from North Korea and had been sent, in fact, to the Soviet Union.”

                              Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Corso, USA, Ret.

                              Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs,

                                              November 10, 1992

An agency was formed under the Department of Defense and funds were appropriated to learn what had happened. A report was compiled.

     “We believe that U.S. Korean War POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union and never repatriated. This transfer was a highly-secret KGB program approved by the inner circle of the Stalinist dictatorship.”

                              Joint Commission Support Branch Research

                                           and Analysis  Division / August 26, 1993

A comprehensive list of the missing men was compiled. The official status of many was changed. Agreements were made with foreign nations that allowed access to their wartime archives.  Advancements in DNA technology made it possible to identify remains that had been resting in anonymity for decades. A rare agreement between the U.S. and North Korea brought U.S. search and recovery teams into North Korea. This provided humanitarian common ground between the two nations. America's accounting effort became unparalleled throughout the world. Hope rose among the families that answers to their loved one’s fate would finally be learned.

      The Step Backward

All this progress came to a screeching halt in 2005. The humanitarian commitment proved too vulnerable to complex domestic and foreign government policies.

 *  The U.S. search and recovery teams were withdrawn from North Korea. Eyewitness interview programs were never initiated.

 * Access to Russian archives withered and virtually faded away.

 * Presidential executive orders calling for transparency lacked breadth and bite. Classified files half a century old remained cloaked in mystery.

 * Reports of American soldiers being held in captivity continued to haunt the families, as if the men themselves, ephemeral, walk among us:

     “Ten persons, including black men, resided in the Mandal-Ri  area, Sungho-Kuyok (North Korea), and were under the control of People’s Armed Forces.”

                               Declassified U.S. Information Report / 1996

Official demands and short-lived press coverage flared up with each sighting, but blanket denials quieted each storm. No one knew what course the men's lives were taking.

In early 2010, North Korea notified the U.S. that remains of American soldiers lost in battle were being exposed to the elements during agricultural activity.

      “’North Korea has discovered more than 400 remains of people likely to be American servicemen killed in the Korean War,’ a deputy North Korean representative to the United Nations said.” 

                              The Washington Times / April 6, 2010

A photograph of dog tags belonging to one missing American was offered as evidence. U.S. recovery teams were invited to return.The official U.S. response contradicted all its patriotic sound-bytes:

      "All of these things are possible, but first and foremost we need to see North Korea back in the six-party process."

                              State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley,

                                        Reuters /January 28, 2010

Politics again prevailed over humanitarian promises. No attempt was made to follow-up. The bones of American soldiers, tangible remnants of their sacrifice, have been allowed to remain untended, exposed to the elements, in a foreign land, by their own government. The President’s Memorial Day promise:

      “.... we remember our sacred obligation ….. to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or who are held as prisoners of war.”

 … is proved hollow. The men have made the search easy. Their bones have surfaced, as if asking to be brought home. Instead, they are being abandoned once again. Our nation's humanitarian promise for the fullest possible accounting of the Korean War’s missing soldiers is a continual series of opportunities like this, lost to political agendas.

      Looking Ahead

There is currently a 3-1 ratio of Korean War MIA family members at government briefings. Yet, virtually nothing is being done to learn the fate of their loved ones left behind on foreign soil. The issues have become increasingly time sensitive. Family members and foreign eyewitnesses to many missing men's fate are aging. Stories with answers are in danger of passing on without providing closure. This should call for a sense of urgency, not a policy of waiting until ideal circumstances arise.

We may not all agree on the merits of war, but anyone can empathize with having a loved one leave home and never be heard from again. Those wounds go unseen. They never heal, never go away. No matter how much one tries to presume the death of a loved one, not knowing their fate prevents the closure needed to move on. This war has been waged for decades in the hearts and minds of the families of the missing men.

When Americans, people worldwide, stand with the families, the government will need to act on its promise. Answers will then be found. They are out there, hidden away in classified documents, buried in fields isolated by political disagreement. Perhaps a few still wait in person, aging men who have lived a lifetime waiting for their nation to bring them home.

The searchers must be pressured to pursue them. The support of a nation, the world at large, is needed to move past the barriers. Joining this petition will show that the fate of these husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles, who fell into missing-in-action oblivion, has become a national, even worldwide, cause.

Thank you for helping fulfill this promise.

Letter to
White House The President of the United States
Mr. President;

Please honor your humanitarian promise to account for missing soldiers left behind after the Korean War. The mission to learn the fate of these fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and uncles has become increasingly time sensitive. Family members and foreign eyewitnesses to many men's fate are aging. This promise is the same one made to today’s servicemen and women, and their families. If the promise is to hold credibility for these present day soldiers, it must first be honored for those who served before them.