Missing in Action: How Military Families Spurred the MIA Movement


“MIA” means ineffective, a term used to refer to members of the armed forces who have not returned from military service and whose whereabouts are unknown. Since ancient times, soldiers have gone to war and never returned, their fate is unknown. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, families of American AIMs began to organize to demand accounting. The hunt continues. As of May 2020, 1,587 US military personnel are still missing in Southeast Asia.

How many Americans are still missing?

The Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency, the Ministry of Defense agency responsible for tracing MIAs, reported in May 2020 that 81,900 Americans were still considered to be MIAs: 72,598 of World War II, 7,580 of the Korean War, 1,587 of Vietnam, 126 of the Cold War and six of conflicts since 1991. Advances in DNA technology, increased access to crash sites or battlefields in territory previously hostile to Americans and the ongoing international negotiations have helped to close more and more open files.