Jon Peterson introduced Jack Dibrell to members on Wednesday morning.  Jack, who has had a distinguished military career, is currently the civilian airport manager of Hunter AAF in Savannah and the regional airport at Fort Stewart.  Jack is a graduate of the University of Alabama, served 30 years in world wide military service, retired as an Army Colonel with assignments in the Aviation, Special Operations and the Diplomatic communities.  Late in his military career he led the US mission to account for POW/MIAs lost in Vietnam and Laos and served as the Defense Attache in Rangoon, Burma.  Prior to moving back to Savannah and civilian life, he led the initial response to the tsunami that struck Thailand (and many other places around the world) in December 2004; he was based in Phukhet, Thailand.

 Jack's presentation was a grim one; it showed battle scenes, casualties, dreadful terrain, men in desperate situations, prisoners, torture, escape attempts (often unsuccessful) and death.  Jack told us that the movie "Rescue Dawn" shows it all, and he showed us a short clip from the film.  Jack's presentation showed "anecdotal vignettes and photos" (his description) to illustrate the efforts made to search for, and if possible identify, the remains of POW/MIAs known or believed to have been lost somewhere in Laos or Vietnam. President Reagan promised the American people a full accounting of the fate of men lost in operations in that most inhospitable part of the world, and Jack showed us how that promise was implemented.  For every man located, the objective was to reclaim the remains or to obtain an acceptable reason why that was not possible.  Jack said that some 1500 persons were missing at the end of the Vietnam war, of whom about 600 are now accounted for.  A map of the area with red dots showing locations of missing men indicated that these locations were to be seen along the full length of Vietnam and Laos.

 As a part of his story Jack showed maps of the countries involved, Vietnam and Laos (the latter, he said, was neutral in name only.)  The Ho Chi Minh Trail runs from the North country of Vietnam to the South down through the center of the country, and, no, it's not a road in our sense, it's bare dirt and, when the rains come, a sea of mud. So the main means of transport in those places is the aircraft, and more importantly, the helicopter.  In order to start investigations, ads would be placed in the local newspapers for information, and when there was a response, members of the US team would talk to witnesses, many of whom had been very young at the time - or were very young now, but had information to offer.  Many of the people interviewed had never seen a Westerner before.  When exploration or excavation was needed the US army unit would take care of the workers it hired to do the work.

Jack told us that all remains located were repatriated to the US via Hawaii.  "No other nation," Jack told us, "Is as determined as we are to account for our missing servicemen."