SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Today, Sept. 15, has been designated as national POW/MIA day.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) uses today to remember and honor those Americans who were prisoners of war and those who served and never returned home.
The DOD’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has a list of soldiers who are missing in action or killed in action that are not accounted for. Their bodies were never recovered. But the lists do include soldiers who have been accounted for.
The DPAA describes accounted for as when the DPAA has made the identification and the next-of-kin has been notified.
The lists covers wars from World War II through Iraq.
At least 68,000 men and women from South Dakota served in WWII. The war ended in Europe on May 25, 1945, and in Japan on Sept. 2, 1945.
The U.S. Department of Defense lists 323 unaccounted and accounted for South Dakota soldiers from WWII. The site lists 11 as accounted for and 315 as unaccounted for.
Some of the listings include soldiers unaccounted for after the war ended.
Victor B. Jones was listed as unaccounted for in Chichi Jima on Feb. 5, 1946. Former president George H. W. Bush was part of a Navy crew that was shot down over Chichi Jima and he escaped capture.
Stanley D. Emmick was listed as unaccounted for in Papua on Feb. 15, 1946. Americans fought with Australians in Papua New Guinea during WWII. Wau and Sansapor were two key battles in that area, according to a U.S. Army history brochure on WWII.
WWII missing and killed have been accounted for such as Private First Class Donald E. Mangan.
Mangan was killed in action on Sept. 17, 1944, near Wettlingen, Germany. His remains were accounted for on July 30, 2019, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The details of the unaccounted for soldiers are expanded with the Korean War. The expansion tells the reader more about the soldier and the circumstances of death or missing.
A total of 38 soldiers from South Dakota are listed as accounted for or unaccounted for. The DPAA lists 34 as unaccounted for and four as accounted for.
More than 7,600 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War, hundreds of whom are believed to be in a “non-recoverable” category, according to the DPAA. Non-recoverable means the U.S. believes it will not be possible to recover the remains. Below are two of the unaccounted for soldiers from South Dakota.
Corporal Bruce Allen Hook entered the U.S. Army from South Dakota and served in L Company, 3rd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 7th Cavalry Division. Hook was captured during patrol near Wonju, South Korea. He was imprisoned in North Korea. Hook died in captivity around March 31, 1951, of malnutrition and pneumonia. His remains were not identified among those returned to U.S. custody following the end of hostilities and he is still unaccounted for. Hook is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Corporal Dwain Erven Schwartz was reported as missing in action after an attack along a stretch of line known as the Kumsong Salien on July 14. Testimony collected later from a survivor of the battle revealed Schwartz had actually been killed by enemy forces while defending his gun position on July 14. His remains were not recovered at the time, and follow-on search efforts have been impeded by the fact that the loss area now lies in North Korean territory. Schwartz is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
More than 27,000 South Dakotans served in the Vietnam War. The DPAA said “nearly 1,600 Americans still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, hundreds are believed to be in a ‘non-recoverable’ category.”
Seven South Dakotans remain unaccounted for, according to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. Donald Deane Aldern, Tommy Leon Callies, Allen Duane Christensen, Stanley Jon Freng, Charles Lane, Walter Alfred Renelt and David Pecor Soyland were lost from June 17, 1966, through May 17, 1971.
Callies was honored with a Fallen Heroes Bridge in Miner County in 2022. The bridge is over the West Fork Vermillion River Bridge on South Dakota Highway 34. Callies hometown is listed as Howard by the state.
The South Dakota Highway 81 bridge north of Yankton over the James River is dedicated to Lane as Fallen Heroes Bridge. Lane grew up in Tabor, according to the state.
Since 1973, the remains of more than 1,000 Americans killed during the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors, according to Audry Ricketts of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. DPAA and their partners continue to investigate and return found heroes back to their states.