Australian support for locating soldiers missing in action

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On April 6, 2012, you published an article on the work of Operation Wandering Souls written by Mr. Calvin Godfrey. I am quoted in the article but Mr. Godfrey did not report the full context of his conversation with me and I wish to set the record straight. The comments attributed to me could be interpreted to imply that the Australian Defense Department has no interest in the recovery of the remains of missing soldiers, having priorities elsewhere. This is not the case. In our conversation, I advised Mr. Godfrey that the Australian Defense Department does support MIA searches here in Vietnam but that our preference is to conduct those activities in partnership with the Vietnam People's Army.

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In recent years, the Australian Defense Department has funded these searches in partnership with the Vietnam People's Army for the remains of 42 Vietnamese soldiers killed in action by Australian Forces in Binh Duong Province in 1968. Unfortunately, those searches succeeded in recovering the remains of only one missing soldier. The search now continues in a private capacity by a next of kin group. Given our previous involvement in the search, the Australian Defense Department remains committed to provide funding to assist in forensic support and DNA testing of remains, should the search by the group be successful.

The Australian Defense Department regards the recovery of war dead as a duty of great importance. We will continue to work with the Vietnam People's Army to identify opportunities where we might cooperate in recovering the remains of missing soldiers.

Matthew Dudley
Group Captain, Defense Attaché
Australian Embassy Hanoi

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