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What really happens to the MIA...?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mussolini, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru Patron  

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    With Veterans day just around the corner, I got to thinking...what really happened/happens to all of those reported as Missing In Action?

    I assume that most are really KIA. I don't know the process of confirming someone was KIA, but I would assume you would either need their Dog-Tags or several people to verify that JOHN DOE was KIA (or a combination of both).

    How does one confirm someone is MIA as opposed to someone who has deserted? I imagine MIA are not POW's as those are usually confirmed by the opposing force.

    So, that leaves me wondering...what really happens to those that are reported MIA?

    I think that some of them a probably 'blown to smithereens' in the heat of combat, so that while no one can confirm seeing them killed, there's also no evidence left behind either. Others probably end up dead in a forest or somewhere alone with no one able to collect the dog-tag or verify their demise.

    Were there burial details after a battle that would collect the tags from both sides and report back the loses via Red Cross etc? Or were a lot of the dead left where they were, with no collection of dog tags, thus being reported as MIA?
     
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  2. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It depends on the war and the army. For most militaries, MIA is usually a temporary thing. Most quickly return to their unit, are found wounded in hospital, or are a prisoner. Often, the simple process of notification via Red Cross that a PW is held and their name can take weeks or months. For the US, those MIA not accounted for after the end of hostilities are eventually legally found dead.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    In 2008 I went on a highly informal trip "somewhere in South East Asia" to help a PAVN colonel find something he'd lost years before. His father, MIA since 1971. Quid pro quo.
     
  4. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru Patron  

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    Well, lets look at it from the WW2 perspective, so those still listed as MIA from WW2.
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    They aren't, at least in the US. As of 1952, they all are presumed dead.
     
  6. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    For the Germans fighting on the Eastern front, those who were captured were held long after the war, in 1991 the last German POW was released after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that was 46 years after the war ended. For Japan, 99.9% of the MIA's were dead, and then there are the very, very, very, very few who heldout like Hiroo Onoda and others, who were slated as being missing. For Russia, all of the MIA's I guarantee you were dead by 1946.
     
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  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'd be careful with generalities like that. For instance some that ended up working for the Germans would likely have tried to disappear completely after the war was over. If they were in the West somewhere they may well have accomplished that. I can think of a number of other possibilities as well.
     
  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I certainly didn't think about the pro-axis Soviets, you have a solid point there lwd. As for hiding I think very few would be able to escape form the Soviets or allies because of their pro-German stance, people would rat them out at some point I would assume.
     
  9. TIRDAD

    TIRDAD Active Member

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    Hi,

    1- I would say "Happy Veterans Day" to everyone who fought for his/her Country.

    2- I ask you: what didn't Happened to them ?

    3- Yes, that's right.

    4- Again, You're right.

    5- It means you don't know where is S/He and What happened to Her/Him.

    6- A part of them, can be POW's too. For example, A pilot, that His/Her plane is hit. S/he can eject, but it's not clear that what would happened to him/her after Ejection.

    7- Lack of Info about their fates.

    8- it's a good example. another one could be "Armored Corps" troopers, like Tank Crews. they are burnt.

    9- Yes. that's right. it could be by a mortar or Arty Shell.

    10- In iran/Iraq, Yes, there were MP troopers who was responsible for this.

    11- also it is possible that a mortar (or sth else) cut off his/her head, so the dog-tag is lost. also it's possible that enemy troops had stolen his/her Dog-tag and other things in his/her pockets.
     
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  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    This is a bit of a philosophical question. It also is true of most soldiers who perished in history until the C20th. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with 650,000 men. Of these 450,000 died. Few if any of them were anything other than MIA in modern terms. Over half of the dead fell out on the march into Russia and were probably murdered by local residents.

    Around half of the British soldiers who fell on the Western Front have no known grave. For many of these men their death was recorded, but they were either denied a dignified burial or their graves were subsequently lost. Many others simply disappeared. This took place in a war famous for its static nature, waged by leading industrial nations. Many soldiers lost on the eastern front in both wars, or in the conflicts following, were lost in cataclysmic operations serving the armed forces of chaotic administrations. The distinction between KIA and MIA is more arbitrary. However, the savagery of these conflicts tended to mean that far fewer MIA survived to become PW.
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    As far as I have been able to determine, all of the men of the 30th Cavalry Recon Troop who were listed as MIA were either later to be found PoW (most) or KIA.
     
  12. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    Interesting question. I must admit I never gave this issue much thought. I guess that most MIA were ultimately declared dead, but I really don't know. I would think, particularly on the Eastern Front, the sheer numbers of men involved would make it difficult to identify them individually. Weren't some put in mass graves? That would make IDs very difficult, if not impossible. It was marginally easier in the West to make ID easier, but as you said, some were "blown to smithereens". I don't know what happened in such cases.
     
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    For all Navies in WW2, very high percentage of Navy MIA's were never seen again especially U-boats
     
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  14. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru Patron  

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    I am glad to stir up some discussion on this :) It's always something I've wondered whenever you see battle reports or stats that are XXX KIA, XXX MIA, etc.

    I can imagine that on the Eastern Front, over those vast expanses of Russia, that there are countless MIA from both sides laying dead in a field somewhere, especially considering the vast amounts of men on that front and the rapidness of advance/retreat over the course of the way.

    Then i think about places like Monte Cassino, with its harsh terrain. I can't imagine they make burial details etc scour every inch of mountainside where some one could possibly be have killed. Also, with the river assaults that took place there, I wonder how many of the MIA were swept away and presumably drowned?

    I think it was in a book about POWs in Europe where I recall seeing something along the lines of a solider being reported to his family as "MIA, Presumably a POW' (or something along those lines). It was confirmed a short while later that he was a POW - I assume they would never report to a family that their loved one was "MIA, Presumably dead."?
     
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  15. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately as you mentioned treasure hunters throughout the former Soviet Union find bodies all the time, heck there still finding bodies from WW1 in France (someone made a post about finding Indian soldiers a few weeks ago I believe?). No matter how hard we try, we will never find all of the lost sons of WW2........
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Relatively few soldiers fought on the Monte Cassino massif itself. It is quite low altitude - about 600 metres and farmed. There was a clearance programme after the war to clear away the dead, landmines and other war debris from this and the other ridges adjacent to the coastal plain. In the higher mountains there were more MIA. The bodies of many of the French and Germans who died in January 1944 for the peaks north of Cassino were never found. I tried to find the graves of some of the French and they are not in Venafro and listed as without a grave on the French memorial website.

    If someone went missing, the family was told. So if an aircraft failed to return a telegram and letter would be sent to that effect. The letter would often have some comforting words to the effect that their loved one might be alive and a PW. If and when m,ore information appeared - body found, the Germans report the dead via the Red Cross etc. A second telegram and a letter would be sent.

    After the war there was a cut off time by which tiem the missing were declared dead. That enabled their executors to dispose of their estates.

    The whole matter was very sensitive, because many relatives e.g mothers and wives would hang onto the slim hope that their loved one was still alive. Graves and funerals are important to grieving , a painful but necessary process. On a personal note, my great uncle Kipps was klilled early in WW1 - 14 September 1914 and buried at Vendresse on the Chemin-des-Dames. During the war his grave was destroyed and the inscription on his grave reads "beleived to be buried in this cemetery" . My father told me that Kipp's mother hung opnto the uncertainty and for the rest of her life kept the door unlocked in the hope that her oldest son would one day come home.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The correct term is "grave robbers" because they steal artifacts that could help families the chance to identify a dead relative.
     
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  18. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Sad but true.....
     

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