POW / MIA Advocate to Speak in Salina

A nationally-known advocate for Missing in Action / POW soldiers and their families will speak in Salina on Memorial Day at the Saline County War Memorial in Sunset Park as a new site at the war memorial will be unveiled and dedicated to 11 POWs from Saline County and Major Dennis Pugh, USN, still MIA.

According to the Sons of American Legion Squadron 62 and VFW post 1432, Ann Mills-Griffiths will be the keynote speaker for the Memorial Day ceremony.

Mills-Griffiths serves as Chairman of the elected Board of Directors of the National League of POW/MIA Families. She served over 45 years leading the nonprofit, 501(c)3 humanitarian organization in Washington, DC. Having stepped aside from daily administration of the League’s national office on August 1, 2011, she has since focused primarily on policy, operations, and sustaining the League’s financial ability to press for and achieve accounting objectives. At the request of the Secretary of Defense, she also served on the Advisory Committee of the Defense Department’s 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration Commission. Mills-Griffiths is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the American Legion Auxiliary, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), a Life Member of the DAV and VFW Auxiliaries, and is an Honorary Life Member of the Special Operations Association (SOA) and the Special Forces Association (SFA). She was the 2019 recipient of the VFW Americanism Award.

From 1980 through 1992, Mills-Griffiths represented the families’ views as a founding member of the POW/MIA Interagency Group (IAG), the US Government’s senior-level policy development and implementation mechanism for achieving accounting results in the humanitarian, step-by-step context of developing bilateral relations with Vietnam and restoring normal bilateral relations with Laos and Cambodia. She was instrumental in setting up high level negotiations between Vietnam and the United States in 1982-83. Since then, she has continued to represent the POW/MIA families and America’s missing personnel through direct contacts with US and foreign leaders.

Mills-Griffiths has met frequently with senior officials in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as with Thai, Russian, Chinese and other diplomats and senior officials in an effort to expedite answers. As a recognized leader on POW/MIA issues and recipient of numerous honors, she also has appeared frequently before congressional committees and subcommittees, national and international broadcast media, participated for decades in policy forums dealing with Southeast Asia, and been called upon for advice and counsel by foreign nations facing their own personnel accounting issues.

Commander James B. Mills, USN[R], Mills-Griffiths’ brother, was listed as MIA on September 21, 1966, when the Navy F4B on which he served as Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) disappeared on a night, low-flying bombing mission over North Vietnam. He was on his second tour, assigned to Fighter Squadron 21, USS Coral Sea. His remains were discovered in 2018 along the shallow coast of North Vietnam.

Special guests Salina Mayor Michael Hoppock, Dale Pugh (brother to Major Dennis Pugh, the only individual from Salina County still MIA), and Ambassador David Lambertson, the former U.S. Ambassador to Thailand & Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State will also be in attendance.

Prior to the 11 a.m. ceremony in Sunset Park, which will include military organization honor guards and a firing squad, the VFW will hold a ceremony at 10 a.m. at Gypsum Hill cemetery, 2020 E. Iron Ave., followed by an American Legion ceremony at Roselawn Cemetery, 1920 E. Crawford St.

Lunch will be held after the last ceremony at the American Legion Post 62/VFW Post 1432, 1108 W. Crawford.

Mills-Griffiths will hold a POW/MIA discussion at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the American/Legion Post 62/VFW Post 1432.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off to The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 62 or VFW Post 1432 to offset costs associated with Memorial Day weekend activities and to continue their mission of helping veterans.


Dennis Pugh was flying on a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos on March 19th, 1970, when his aircraft was shot down. He and his pilot ejected safely and contact was made with both crew members on the ground. Search efforts were terminated due to darkness and intense enemy activity in the area. When rescue efforts resumed at first light, Dennis reported being surrounded by enemy. Numerous rescue attempts were repulsed by enemy fire. Eventually, radio contact with Pugh was lost. The pilot of the aircraft was rescued, but Pugh could not be located. There has been no further word of Pugh.