Navy veteran and author Taylor Kiland to discuss her new book, Unwavering, which tells the story of how a group of military spouses battled the government to demand information about POWs and MIAs in the Vietnam War. The movement was led by Ann Mills-Griffiths, whose brother, Navy Lt. James Mills, had gone missing during a mission over North Vietnam in 1966. Griffiths joined with other women with missing or captive loved ones in Southeast Asia to form the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, defying government directives to maintain silence.
In October 1969, these determined women secured a meeting with North Vietnamese officials in Paris, marking a turning point in their advocacy. The encounter, though tense, garnered national and international attention, thrusting them into the spotlight. They became activists, challenging the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House to prioritize the return of missing and captive men.
Their efforts led to the creation of the iconic black-and-white POW/MIA flag and the widespread distribution of POW/MIA bracelets.
Between 1969 and 1973, as the Paris Peace Accords were signed, members of the National League of Families tirelessly advocated for their cause worldwide, becoming the face of international diplomacy. Their relentless efforts extended beyond the war’s end, pressuring the Pentagon to establish the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) in 1973, later evolving into the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The DPAA, with an annual budget of $130 million and 700 staff members, continues its mission to locate and repatriate missing servicemembers from all wars. The impact of these women extends beyond U.S. borders, influencing how other nations address missing servicemembers. The article concludes by acknowledging the ongoing accountability of families for the 1,579 individuals still missing from the Vietnam War and the noble, quintessentially American commitment to “Leave No Man Behind.”
Ann Mills-Griffiths believed that her brother’s fate might never be known. But a breakthrough occurred in 2018 when DPAA confirmed the recovery of bone fragments from Lt. James Mills. This discovery marked the end of a 50-year search and provided another step into healing from a wound that a will never completely go away.