Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Final MIA operation takes off

Final MIA operation takes off

Final MIA operation takes off

The US military this week launched their final MIA search mission in Cambodia,

with a 50-man team flying in from Thailand.

Using three UH-60 Black Hawk

helicopters, the team will spend around 30 days investigating eight cases of US

servicemen who went missing in action during the Indochina war.

The

searches will take place in Kompong Thom, Kompong Cham and Siem Reap provinces,

with three of the cases being aircraft crash sites, the other five are of

American military personnel who went missing while on foot.

The US

personnel and helicopters will be unarmed but will be protected against attacks

by Khmer Rouge guerrillas or bandits by a squad from the Royal Cambodian Armed

Forces.

The mission is the last of nine conducted in the country since

Detachment Four of the Joint Task Force - Full Accounting was set up at the US

Embassy in Phnom Penh in February 1992.

The team has investigated 39

cases in all, involving 78 individuals, though has only been able to recover and

positively identify the remains of three missing Americans, a reporter and two

servicemen.

The commander of the team, US Air Force Major Tony Lowe, said

the searches are a pains-taking operation and admits: "It is like looking for a

needle in a haystack."

But he said the missions have comforted the

families of the missing by providing them with more information about what

happened to their loved ones.

Major Lowe was also full of praise for the

Cambodian governments for their cooperation with the search. He said:"We are

receiving excellent support, I don't know how it could have been better."

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