Here are some important links concerning the National League of POW/MIA Families:


The National League of POW/MIA Families Web Site

The History of the League of POW/MIA Families

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Missing Man Table & Honors Ceremony

History of the POW/MIA Flag

We need your help and support for the families of POW/MIA


The History of the League of POW/MIA Families

The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was incorporated in the District of Columbia on May 28, 1970. Voting membership is comprised of wives, children, parents, siblings and other close relatives of Americans who were or are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), Killed in Action/Body not Recovered (KIA/BNR) and returned American Vietnam War POWs from the Vietnam War.

Associate membership is comprised of veterans, other concerned citizens, and POW/MIA and KIA/BNR relatives who do not meet voting membership requirements. As a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 humanitarian organization (FEIN #23-7071242), the League is financed by donations from the families, veterans and others. The League’s sole mission is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.

The League originated on the west coast in the late 1960s.  Believing US Government policy of maintaining a low profile on the POW/MIA issue – while urging family members to refrain from publicly discussing the problem – was unjustified, the wife of a ranking POW initiated a loosely organized movement that evolved into the National League of POW/MIA Families.  In October 1968, the first POW/MIA story was published.  As a result of that publicity, the families began communicating with each other, and the group grew in strength from 50 to 100, to 300, and kept growing.  Small POW/MIA family groups, supported by concerned Americans, flooded the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris with telegraphic inquiries regarding the prisoners and missing, the first major activity in which hundreds of families participated.

Eventually, the necessity for formal incorporation was recognized.  In May 1970, a special ad hoc meeting of the families was held at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, at which time the League’s charter and by-laws were adopted.  Elected by the voting membership, now numbering approximately 1,000, a seven-member Board of Directors meets regularly to determine League policy and direction.  Board Members, Regional Coordinators, responsible for activities in multi-state areas, and State Coordinators represent the League in most states.

The League’s national office is staffed by only one full-time employee, Office Administrator Leslie Swindells, assisted by volunteers – concerned citizens, family members and university-level interns – when available.  She is responsible for administration of the office, coordinating public awareness, and implementing policies established by the membership and Board of Directors.  Chairman of the Board is Ann Mills-Griffiths, MIA sister and principal spokesman on policy matters.   She served as League Executive Director from 1978 until 2011.

For additional information on League policies, positions and activities, check the web site:  The League is nationally eligible for donations through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #10218) and United Way.

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Until July 18, 1979, no commemoration was held to honor America’s POW/MIAs, those returned and those still missing and unaccounted for from our nation’s wars.  That first year, resolutions were passed in the Congress and the national ceremony was held at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC.  The Missing Man Formation was flown by the 1st Tactical Squadron, Langley AFB, Virginia.  The Veterans Administration published a poster with the letters “POW/MIA” and that format was continued until 1982, when a black and white drawing of a POW in harsh captivity was used to convey the urgency of the situation and the priority that President Ronald Reagan assigned to achieving the fullest possible accounting for Americans still missing from the Vietnam War.  For the next ten years, the various renditions of the American Eagle, by artist and Vietnam Veteran Tom Nielsen, came to symbolize America’s POW/MIAs and our nation’s efforts to bring them home.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day legislation was introduced yearly until 1995 when Congress opted to discontinue considering legislation to designate special commemorative days.  Since then, the President has signed an annual proclamation.  In the early years, the date was routinely set in close proximity to the League’s annual meetings.  In the mid-1980s, the American ex-POWs decided that they wished to see the date established as April 9th, the date during World War II when the largest number of Americans were captured.  As a result, legislation urged by the American ex-POWs was passed covering two years, July 20, 1984, as initially proposed, and April 9, 1985, the latter of which had to be cancelled due to inclement weather, a concern that had been expressed with the proposed April 9th .

The 1984 National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony was held at the White House, hosted by President Reagan.  At this most impressive ceremony, the Reagan Administration balanced the focus to honor all returned POWs and renew national commitment to accounting as fully as possible for those still missing.  Perhaps the most impressive Missing Man Formation ever flown was that year, up the Ellipse and directly over the White House.

Subsequently, in an effort to accommodate all returned POWs and all Americans still missing and unaccounted for from all wars, the League proposed the third Friday in September, a date not associated with any particular war, not in conjunction with any organization’s national convention and a time when weather nationwide is usually moderate.  Most national ceremonies have been held at the Pentagon; however, in addition to the July 20, 1984, White House ceremony noted above, the September 19, 1986, national ceremony was held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol facing the National Mall, also concluding with a flight of high performance military aircraft in Missing Man Formation.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies are now held throughout the nation and around the world on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, at schools, churches, national veteran and civic organizations, police and fire departments, fire stations, etc.  The League’s POW/MIA flag is flown, and the focus is to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our Nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.

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Missing Man Table & Honors Ceremony

As you entered the room, you may have noticed a special table; it is reserved to honor our missing men.  Set for six, the empty chairs represent Americans who were or are missing from each of the services – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit.

Some here were very young, or not yet born, when the Vietnam War began; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our Nation’s call and served the cause of freedom in a special way.

Let me explain the meaning of this table, and then join me for a moment of silent prayer:

The table is round – to show our everlasting concern;
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve;
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans…and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers;
The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them;
A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land;
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty;
The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return;
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in God and country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst;
The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast;
The chairs are empty – they are missing (moment of silence).

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s POW/MIA’s, to the success of our efforts to account for them, and to the safety of all now serving our Nation!

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History of the POW/MIA Flag

In 1970, Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida, Times-Union, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice President of Annin & Company, which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as part of their policy to provide flags to all United Nations member states.  Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he and an Annin advertising agency employee, Newt Heisley, designed a flag to represent our missing men.

Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.  Wanting the widest possible dissemination and use of the symbol to advocate improved treatment for and answers on American POW/MIAs, no trade mark or copyright was sought.  The widespread use of the League’s POW/MIA flag is not restricted legally, nor do profits from its commercial sale benefit the League.

On March 9, 1989, an official League flag that flew over the White House on National POW/MIA Recognition Day 1988 was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th Congress.  In a demonstration of bipartisan Congressional support, the leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation”.  The importance of the League’s POW/MIA flag lies in its continued visibility, a constant reminder of the plight of America’s POW/MIAs.  Other than "Old Glory", the League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag ever to fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982.

Passage by the 105th Congress of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act required that the League’s POW/MIA flag fly six days each year:  Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.  It must be displayed at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs, the headquarters of the Selective Service System, major military installations as designated by the Secretary of the Defense, all Federal cemeteries and all offices of the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition to the specific dates stipulated, the Department of Veterans Affairs voluntarily displays our POW/MIA flag 24/7.  The National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, and World War II Memorials are now also required by law to display the POW/MIA flag daily, and most State Capitols have adopted similar laws, as local governments nationwide.

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We need your help and support for the families of POW/MIA

American public support is critical to achieving the League’s goal:  the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.  The first steps:


Check the League’s website (see above) and Facebook page for current, factual information; then pass it along and help spread the word on recent and upcoming events and projects.

Call the League’s office, 703-465-7432, for answers to any questions.

Join the League as a voting member (family) or associate member for $25/year or student member for $10/year, online at the League website, through PayPal, or by check to receive regular electronic updates, and the newsletter and special mailings by US mail. Conserve League funds; sign up for email-only updates and information.


Distribute Facts:  Forward electronic League POW/MIA Updates to friends, co-workers and attendees at meetings of civic, fraternal, business, church and veteran groups.

Arrange for POW/MIA Speakers:  Contact the League’s national office or your state’s League Coordinator for assistance, particularly for national, state and district veteran and auxiliary conventions, as well as similar gatherings.

Hold Appropriate Ceremonies & Fly the POW/MIA Flag:  Display the League’s POW/MIA flag 24/7 or on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. These dates are required by law for display at the White House, Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, all offices of the US Postal Service, all VA medical centers and cemeteries, military bases, posts and stations as designated by the Secretary of Defense, and 24/7 at the National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War and WWII Memorials.

WRITE TO CONGRESS, urging bipartisan support and full operational funding for US priority to account as fully as possible for America’s missing:

The Honorable _______________
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable _________________
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The editor of your local paper, drawing responsible public attention to the need for answers on America’s POW/MIAs. For assistance on points to cover during interviews, call or email the League.

The Vietnamese, Laos, and Russian Ambassadors:  Thank them for their efforts to date and urge increased cooperation – unilateral and joint – to account for missing Americans:

Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, NW,
Suite 400 Washington, DC  20036

Embassy of Laos
2222 S Street, NW
Washington, DC  20008

Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20007


Contribute to the League at the address provided on the letterhead or through Combined Federal Campaign and United Way (CFC #10218).  Without the League, America’s POW/MIAs would have been written off years ago.  Donations can be made online through PayPal on the League’s website ( and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law (FEIN #23-7071242).

Adopt a POW/MIA:  Individuals/groups can adopt a missing man for $60/year.

Wear a POW/MIA lapel pin, available from the League office at $3 each or 2/$5.

Wear a POW/MIA bracelet, stainless steel with the name of a POW/MIA for $15 each.  Check the League website to order, or call Ohio Chapter MIA/POW at 614-451-2405.

Fly a POW/MIA flag.  Obtain a flag from Ohio Chapter MIA/POW by calling 614-451-2405.  Cost for a high-quality, double-sided nylon flag is $30 for a 2’ x 3’, $40 for a 3’x 5’ and $50 for a 4’x 6’, shipping included.  For decades, Ohio Chapter MIA/POW has donated 100% of all proceeds to the League.

Display a POW/MIA decal in your car window, available individually from the League’s national office 2/$1 or 100/$25, including shipping.

Urge the media to contact the League to get accurate and prompt responses to questions.


Appoint a POW/MIA Chairman to coordinate issue-related activities for the chapter or post, and join the League as an associate member ($25/year).  See public awareness opportunities below.

POW/MIA Adoption Program:  In addition to the standard guidelines for adoption, veterans may wish to 1) re-name the post, chapter or unit to honor a missing fellow veteran; and 2) reserve an empty chair in his honor at all group meetings and functions.

Speakers:  Contact the League’s national office or your state’s League Coordinator to obtain knowledgeable POW/MIA speakers for district meetings, state conventions, and national events.

Booths at Meetings:  Set up a table or booth at district, state or national meetings to distribute current, factual POW/MIA information, available from the League’s national office by request.

Community Parades:  Carry a POW/MIA flag and/or construct a banner. Awareness materials for distribution and other suggestions are available from the League’s national office and website,

Counter misinformation with facts!  Ask for proof from those who claim to have evidence of living US POWs; if provided, turn it over to responsible League or US officials.  Remember, Americans still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War need the strong, unified voice of our nation’s veterans to support them and their families.  Working together with the US and relevant foreign governments, we will obtain the fullest possible accounting for America’s UNRETURNED VETERANS, our POW/MIAs.

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