POW/MIA Day more than annual observance for AFPC

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One way the SCOs maintain contact is by traveling to various regions in the United States throughout the year supporting family member updates, said Sandra Kolb, chief of the missing persons branch at the Air Force Personnel Center. These updates provide informal forums for information exchange and to answer questions next of kin may have regarding their loved ones.

In addition, SCOs attend two larger annual meetings, one for Southeast Asia and one for the Korea and Cold War era. The congressionally-authorized Coincidental Travel Assistance Program pays for travel cost to the annual event for two family members of each of our unaccounted for Airmen. Travel expenses do not include per diem or lodging.

These annual meetings derived from Title 10 legal mandate for the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, or DPMO, to keep family members abreast of government efforts to account for still unaccounted-for service members from past conflicts.

Attendance at the meetings varies from year to year.

“On average, the Air Force has 80 to 90 family members attend the SEA annual meeting. Prior to 2010, we averaged around 80 family members attending the Korea/Cold War annual meeting,” she said. “However, due to a huge effort by the Armed Forces DNA Lab to conduct a genealogy search to locate family members, the numbers for this year's Korea/Cold War annual meeting shot up to 135.”

During these annual meetings, family members receive updates from various agencies on Department of Defense efforts. Each military service also puts together a “records review” office to allow family members to review their loved ones’ case files during the 2 to 3 day meeting.

When family members RSVP for the annual meeting, they sign up for a time to review their records, Kolb said. The SCOs download the necessary case files to laptops that are taken to the meetings and made available for case reviews. Laptops are set up on separate tables throughout the room to allow for privacy. Family members are also afforded the opportunity to meet with a DPMO analyst who can provide more in-depth reviews of their case and on-going accountability efforts.

“I'm very excited for the opportunity to meet of our family members and interact with representatives of the agencies that we work with daily on this mission,” Kolb said. “It's an amazing opportunity for the entire POW/MIA community to gather to remember our unaccounted-for service members and assure our family members that the U.S. government will not stop looking for their loved ones -- they will not be forgotten.”

For more information on the POW/MIA mission, go to