Texas Tech University

U.S. Department of Defense Selects Texas Tech as Partner to Help Find Missing Military Personnel

Glenys Young

August 9, 2021

Research will help bring closure to the families who have lost loved ones in the defense of our nation.

More than 18 million American soldiers fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Many tens of thousands never came home.


Some were held as prisoners of war (POWs); others disappeared entirely and ultimately were listed as missing in action (MIA). Now, the U.S. Department of Defense is teaming up with Texas Tech University to further the department's longstanding mission to find out what happened to them – all of them.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has selected Texas Tech's Institute for Peace & Conflict (IPAC) and its Vietnam Center & Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive (VNCA) as a partner in the Hub and Spoke program to support research that will help locate and identify the 81,000 individuals listed as MIA from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. DPAA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense whose mission is to recover U.S. military personnel listed as POWs or MIAs from past conflicts around the world.

“We are honored to have been selected as one of a few universities to conduct research to help bring closure to the families who have lost loved ones in the defense of our nation,” said Ron Milam, executive director of IPAC.

The Hub and Spoke program has partnered with select institutions for this purpose. The agreement requires IPAC to employ postdoctoral fellows to conduct research for up to four years at the direction of DPAA.

“For many years, the VNCA has hosted researchers from DPAA's headquarters in Hawaii and assisted them in finding historical materials that might aid in accounting for U.S. MIAs from the Vietnam War,” said Stephen Maxner, director of the VNCA. “We are proud to now work more directly with DPAA to conduct focused research using the archival materials preserved at Texas Tech, which comprise the largest nongovernment archive of the Vietnam War in the world.


“By researching both our U.S. military and captured Vietnamese document collections, VNCA can contribute significantly to the mission of DPAA as they strive to offer the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation.”

Texas Tech's postdoctoral fellows will teach a military history course each year for the Department of History and participate in conferences, community veteran events and local K-12 activities.

“Being selected by the Department of Defense to partner with military historians from around the world is a great honor,” Milam said. “With IPAC's mission involving conflict from all wars, we believe we have the facilities and skill sets to contribute to this noble cause.”

The mission is especially close to the hearts of those at Texas Tech. The Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive was named in honor of a former POW.

“The College of Arts & Sciences is proud one of its institutes has been selected for this important mission,” said Michael San Francisco, interim dean of the college. “It is just one more example of the great things happening here at Texas Tech University.”