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Search for MIAs

April 15, 2001

* Sixteen men have recently died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, searching for the remains of U.S. servicemen missing in action over 30 years ago (April 9). I am concerned that the MIA recovery program now in effect and supported by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld may exacerbate the tragedy of the Vietnam War.

I am deeply aware, having served as a military surgeon in an Army hospital in Japan in the late 1960s, of the effects of war on the families of those maimed or killed. There is no question that a family can best accept a soldier's death if the body is returned to his homeland. However, countless numbers of our sailors will rest forever at the bottom of the sea. Is a final resting place below a jungle canopy any less valid? Would those brave servicemen wish anyone else to die in Vietnam?

Surely, the souls of all of our servicemen killed in action are now in a godly place, no matter where their remains may be.

HENRY CLAY ALEXANDER MD

Oceanside

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