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    San Antonio Native searches for Missing in action Service Members in Laos



    Story by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan 

    Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

    By Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Public Affairs
    March 2, 2020

    JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Christopher Cunningham, an air crew flight equipment technician out of Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, was recently attached to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team as a Life Support Investigator (LSI) in Boualapha District, Khammouan province, Laos, in search of an unaccounted for service member from the Vietnam War.

    “The job of the LSI is to identify possible life support equipment that service members wear during their flight in an aircraft and would have been wearing during the crash,” said Cunningham.

    Cunningham added that finding life support equipment (LSE) directly correlates and helps greatly with locating where the service member might be on the dig site. Once LSE is confirmed in a specific unit that’s been excavated, the MIA service member could be a step closer to being recovered.

    “It’s important to have us on the site because we know the equipment that the aircrew would have been wearing and when something is found, people come to us for confirmation if it’s either part of the aircraft, or actually a piece of LSE,” Cunningham said.

    DPAA teams operate in austere environments around in the Indo-Pacific region including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, and in Europe. Additional requirements for team members on the site consist of building shelters, tents, and digging and screening at the excavation site. Tech Sgt. Cunningham said that he appreciates the purpose of the mission to find the MIA service members, but also working with the Lao Government and local nationals while digging and screening.

    “One of the most rewarding parts of the job currently, is working together with the villagers and Lao officials to complete a shared goal,” he said.

    The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. DPAA is responsible for implementing the Secretary of Defense's program to account for the more than 81,000 Americans who remain unaccounted from the World War II era through the Gulf Wars.

    News media looking for more information about DPAA or Tech Sgt. Christopher Cunningham, visit, find us on social media at, or email Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman at



    Date Taken: 03.02.2020
    Date Posted: 03.09.2020 15:03
    Story ID: 364408
    Location: SAN ANTONIO, TX, US 

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