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The return of prisoners, called Operation Homecoming, began February 12, 1973, and ended March 9, 1973. A total of 591 men were returned to the U.S. military representatives. As many as 2500 men were still being held as POWs after this release. According to the U.S. Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, as of 1998, there are still 2100 personnel who remain classified as MIA, remains not received, or are missing or unaccounted for. The Vietnam War was the longest conflict in American history. But the history of that conflict doesn't tell us of the heartbreak and the agony of families whose sons and daughters, husbands and brothers, remain missing long after that conflict. For many, the agony ended when their loved ones returned alive--changed by their experience, but able to resume their lives. For others, coffins with remains were returned and formal military services and funerals were held across America. These families mourned the loss of their loved ones. Their private war was over. Then there were the Missing In Action. For their parents, wives and children, the conflict had not ended. In many ways it had just begun. These are the stories of eight such families. Each have waited for closure for more than 30 years and are still waiting.
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Norman Berg is the father of a MIA. He served in the U.S. Navy and retired in 1966 as Commanding Officer, Naval Training Unit, with the rank of Captain. He was National Director of Sea Scouting and the national staff of the Boy Scouts of America. He retired in 1985 after 10 years in Europe as a loaned executive to the U.S. military, supervising Boy Scout programs for children of military personnel in 21 European and Middle Eastern countries. He currently resides in New York.
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