Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIA optimistic after Singapore Summit

Jake Hughes
June 19, 2018 - 1:23 pm

(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

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North Korea has been in the news a lot recently. With the new talks going on between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, it looks like a tentative peace has been met. Politicians on both sides, of course, have been bickering on whether it’s a good thing or not, but one group of people see this as a great thing: the families of the over seven thousand POW/MIA service members lost in the Korean War.

Rick Downes was just three years old when his father’s plane went missing over North Korea on January 13th, 1952. Now, as the President and Executive Director for the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIA, he advocates for the missing of what some call the Forgotten War. “It wasn’t really until the families of the Vietnam MIA’s started vocalizing their issue that people started wondering, ‘Well, what happened to my father, my brother’?”

The Coalition was founded in 1998. Rick’s sister, Donna, was one of the founding members and its first President. Their mission is to promote the fullest possible accounting for American servicemen who remain prisoners-of-war or missing-in-action from the Korean and Cold Wars. “In the end, we’re only going to find our loved ones by searching for them all,” says Rick.

The recent meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States gives Rick a feeling of hope. “It’s a door opening, a crack. But we have to keep in mind that it was words exchanged, the signing of a document. What happens next is what really matters.” The process of returning remains has been an ongoing one. In the early 1990’s, several hundred bodies were returned, and a few hundred more in the early 2000’s.

Still, despite the positive forward movement, Rick advises cautious optimism. “It won’t be right away that the recovery teams will go in. Then maybe we can bring up the topics of live sightings, flyers, and teams going village to village where we think these things happen.”

For more information on the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIA, visit their website.

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