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Formerly Missing Kansas Airman Laid to Rest

Associated Press - September 18, 2016 8:07 am

Photograph of Dean A. Klenda taken in January, 1965. (photo via Lee & Heather on Flickr)

A Kansas man whose fighter plane was shot down in North Vietnam in 1965 is finally laid to rest in his native state.

Family and friends gathered in Pilsen Saturday to bury Maj. Dean Klenda.

The Wichita Eagle reports Klenda’s sister, Deanna Klenda, worked relentlessly with The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency until recovery teams from the U.S. and Vietnam found his remains in 2014.

Dean Klenda’s burial came on the 51st anniversary of the day he went missing. His F-105 Thunderchief was helping attack targets east of Hanoi when it was hit by enemy fire, causing him to try to eject. The military says he failed to separate from his ejection seat before it hit the ground.


Maj. Dean Klenda is  laid to rest. (US Air Force photo)

Maj. Dean Klenda is laid to rest. (US Air Force photo)

Rose Mary Stone

September 19, 2016 at 8:54 pm

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) was finally disbanded after an avalanche of scandals were exposed by NBC, CBS, Fox News, NPR, the AP, and Stars and Stripes. Multiple government investigations then found gross mismanagement and a total lack of leadership. The American public and families of our lost heroes channeled their anger, frustration, humiliation, and feelings of betrayal to demand the immediate removal of those responsible for what the the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, testified was “Disgraceful”.

A “new” Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) was created to replace the scandal plagued JPAC. Sadly, the government’s idea of the massive reform necessary was a superficial name change of the organization and re-shuffling the same poor executives and laboratory managers to new desks and titles in a brand new $85 million dollar building in Hawaii. Before quitting in less than a year, the new director of DPAA discovered that the DPAA lab was just as inept in a new building as they were in the previous facility and DPAA began depending on the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Delaware for identifications.

In 2015, the DPAA lab produced a grand total of 70 identifications at a gross cost of almost $2 million per identification! This was a whooping one more identification than JPAC’s proven dysfunctional system produced the previous year! Five identifications in 2015 were from remains discovered by a private group at a construction site . Another identification was the result of a family filing a Federal lawsuit to force DPAA’s management to act after JPAC’s own investigation matched the missing serviceman’s identity with a precise burial location! But half of the 70 identifications were from remains turned over by North Korea in 1991 that had been sitting on the JPAC/DPAA Laboratory shelves for 24 YEARS! Disgraceful!

Due to antiquated methods and dysfunctional management there is a backlog of over 1,400 sets of remains of American service men and women sitting in cardboard boxes at DPAA awaiting identification right now. The AVERAGE time for identification after remains are received in the DPAA/JPAC laboratory is ELEVEN YEARS! Disgraceful!

The same group of serial offenders responsible for this ineptitude that brought us multiple outrageous scandals including phony “arrival home” ceremonies and multiple investigations into fraud, waste and abuse of government funds remain in the “new” DPAA. The JPAC Scientific Director was reassigned to be in charge of “partnering with private groups”. Does this mean that he hands out government contracts for work that DPAA should be doing? Disgraceful!

Meanwhile the JPAC/DPAA management mantra of “Delay, Deny, and wait for the families to Die” continues. The current response time for basic information to families and researchers under the Freedom of Information Act is over ONE YEAR! Federal law requires this information to be provided within 20 days, which DPAA routinely violates without consequences. Disgraceful!

Anyone with any management experience knows that the entire operation that was JPAC should have been deconstructed, brick by brick. Such needed massive reform simply did not happen. Just when families of our missing servicemen and women thought things could not get worse, it did. The same infectious disease of JPAC arrogance and lies to the families of American heroes took root all over again at DPAA. This incredibly dysfunctional organization continues and has been added to the VA Hospital, Dover Mortuary, Arlington Cemetery, and the Viet Nam Unknown misidentification debacles. Disgraceful!

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