e p i l o g u e
Same as It Ever Was
We will try all we can, any way we can to bring back our missing. The mis-
sion will continue for as long as it takes to find our missing from all wars.
—Redmann, 2003
On April 7, 2001, a helicopter crash claimed the lives of sixteen mem-
bers of an ie working to recover the remains of Americans killed in
action in Vietnam. Part of the 65th Joint Field Activity between the
United States and Vietnam, the team was composed of seven Ameri-
cans and nine Vietnamese. Declining to blame the accident on the aged
Soviet-made mi-17 helicopter, the public affairs officer for the jtf-fa
acknowledged, ‘‘Every mission is a dangerous mission. It’s a very dif-
ficult area to operate in’’ (Ishikawa, 2001: a5). Conceding the danger,
however, did little to mitigate the impression that the effort to account
for American soldiers missing in Southeast Asia had finally exacted an
unjustifiably high price and that perhaps the greatest tribute to those
killed in the crash would be the admission that the accounting effort
could not be validated in terms of further lives lost in Vietnam. Pre-
sented with this interpretive possibility, however, the U.S. government
took the opposite approach, choosing instead to consecrate the lives of
those killed to the continuation of the search. In a public statement di-
rected to the families of servicemen still unaccounted for, Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld was quick to declare, ‘‘Our mission will con-
tinue, even in the face of this tragedy’’ (U.S. Department of Defense,
2001b). At a memorial service held on April 25, Deputy Secretary of
Previous Page Next Page