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Simmons disputes report: Military works hard to recover MIAs

Rob Simmons Stonington

Publication: The Day

Published 07/12/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 07/11/2013 04:20 PM

I would like to response to the article by Robert Burns, "Internal report says military's effort to find MIAs is 'acutely dysfunctional'," (July 8).

While I cannot speak to all of the allegations under consideration, I will say that the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) accomplished the virtually impossible in recovering the remains of Waterford's Capt. Arnold Holm and his two-man crew who crashed in Vietnam's Central Highlands in 1972.

I first learned of this case in late 2002 from Holm's childhood friend, Bill Cavalieri, and in less than a year my wife and I were crawling through triple canopy jungle in Thua Thien Province with a JPAC Team. The conditions were extremely harsh but eventually the crash site was identified by JPAC, excavation took place, remains were recovered and a funeral was held with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Was it quick? No. Was it easy? No! But in my dealings with JPAC I found them to be hard working, dedicated, patriotic, professional and brave - yes, brave - individuals who risked their lives in the search for our missing soldiers. In Vietnam, in fact, close to a dozen Americans and Vietnamese have died in these hazardous recovery efforts.

Robert Burns would have done a better job in his story if he described some of the difficulties JPAC faces every day and some of the successes they have achieved - like the recovery of CPT Arnold Holm and his crew.

Editors note: Rob Simmons, a retired colonel in the Army Reserves, served as congressman from eastern Connecticut's 2nd District from 2001 to 2007.

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