Ambassador Kritenbrink Remarks: 150th Repatriation Ceremony

Sunday, June 23, 2019
Danang International Airport, Danang

Vice Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn, Acting Director General of the Americas Division Lê Chí Dzũng, distinguished guests, friends and colleagues.

It is a privilege to be here today to remember the sacrifice of American personnel who went missing in Vietnam so many years ago, as well as to honor our shared mission to return them back home. We are able to hold this ceremony today thanks to the Government of Vietnam and their steadfast commitment to this humanitarian effort.

I am very proud of this mission, not only as a diplomat of the United States Government, but also as an American citizen. I am proud because it represents the seamless teamwork between Vietnamese and American officials and a long history of cooperation and support between our two governments. This shared mission provided a basis upon which normalization of relations was built, and it is the way in which we learned as two countries to trust and work together.

Last month, combined teams of specialists from the United States and the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons began the 135th Joint field Activity, deploying five joint recovery teams, one Government of Vietnam-led unilateral recovery team, two joint research and investigation teams, and one joint underwater recovery team. Working together, the efforts of these dedicated professionals resulted in the discovery of remains we believe are associated with Americans still missing from the war. This cooperative effort has provided a great measure of comfort to many whose loved ones were accounted for, and I sincerely thank the government and people of Vietnam on behalf of those families. The United States looks forward to continuing this mission with Vietnam as we move towards the fullest possible accounting of 1,246 Americans who have not yet returned home.

To my colleagues on the American Team, your service and commitment in returning our unaccounted service members to their loved ones is inspiring. You have much to be proud of in upholding our Nation’s promise that “none are forgotten.” And to my Government of Vietnam colleagues, we are grateful for your support to the families of the missing personnel. You continue to provide the necessary resources required to maintain the pace and scope of our increasingly comprehensive operations. This is in the best spirit of our long standing humanitarian cooperation and the bonds of friendship between our people.

Once again, thank you for joining us here today to honor our service members.