A Veteran’s Day Salute to our Valued Partnership with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
This Veteran’s Day, we at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) would like to highlight the incredible work of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). The mission of the DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for American personnel lost in foreign conflicts going back to World War II, with the ultimate goal of finding these lost personnel, completing their stories, and bringing them back to their families and loved ones, thus bringing closure to them and to the nation. Such a monumental effort requires an army of professionals working tirelessly across the globe, including administrators, military personnel, historians, archeologists, doctors, scientists, and field specialists.
Of these professionals, historians pay a key role in identification. They do the expert research required to piece together the puzzles of these lost historical narratives. It is this research that enables many other professionals to do their work, and as the DPAA Postdoctoral Research Partner Fellow at George Mason University’s RRCHNM, I am honored to contribute what I can to these important accounting efforts. With the RRCHNM being at the forefront of digital history research methods and GMU’s close proximity to Washington DC and the National Archives, we are ideally situated to assist in DPAA research.
For my small part, I contribute to projects related to the Korean War accounting efforts under the DPAA’s Indo-Pacific Directorate. My work on these projects includes digitization, data collection, mapping, and historical narrative research and writing. As the inaugural fellow, I am proud to have also developed an internship program that is directly connected with the work of the DPAA Fellowship.
Open to undergraduate and graduate students, the internship is customized based on the background and professional goals of each intern. In this way, the interns contribute to the DPAA’s accounting efforts while also gaining valuable professional experience and skill in historical research, archival digitization, mapping, public history, Korean history, military history, international history, and working with a large federal government organization. Past interns have created datasets, georectified maps, researched and written historical narratives, presented research, and digitized National Archive records in accordance with strict DPAA standards. This last summer alone, the interns digitized over 2,500 pages of records that can now be added to digital primary source collections, which will be invaluable to DPAA historians.
Because it takes an army of professionals, the DPAA partnership with GMU and the RRCHNM is just one of many. Back in August, the DPAA Partnerships & Innovations (PI) Directorate team visited us at GMU and toured the RRCHNM. In recognition of our partnership and contribution to the DPAA accounting efforts, Mills Kelly (DPAA/GMU Research Principal Investigator), Nate Sleeter (DPAA/GMU Co-Research Principal Investigator), and I received challenge coins from Rocky Gillette (Acting Director of the DPAA PI Directorate). Considering how hard they work for the DPAA mission, we are humbled by the acknowledgement and we hope they will visit again soon!
So, as we honor our veterans, remember this army of professionals and help spread the word about all the important work that the DPAA does. This is just the beginning of this valued partnership between them and the RRCHNM. We are honored to do our small part and look forward to the future. Together, we hope to continue to reconstruct these lost histories for their families and for the nation.