The Pentagon has tapped Navy Rear Adm. Jon C. Kreitz to be the next deputy director for operations of the agency that searches for, recovers and identifies missing American war dead from around the world.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, with a budget of $112 million, has the bulk of its operations based out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with about 400 personnel in Hawaii.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler has been the accounting agency's deputy director at Hickam since September 2015. Fern Sumpter Winbush is the interim agency director out of Washington, D.C.
Congress mandated in 2009 that the Pentagon have the capacity to identify up to 200 MIAs a year by fiscal 2015 -- a goal the agency has struggled with since then and after going through a Pentagon-'mandated reorganization in recent years, aimed at improving efficiency.
According to the accounting agency, 110 identifications had been made this fiscal year as of Wednesday.
Among those are crew members who died in the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, and whose remains were buried as "unknowns" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
In April 2015, with advances made in science, the deputy secretary of defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of all the 388 Oklahoma unknowns.
At least 70 identifications have been made from those exhumed remains, usually with DNA matches to relatives.
Kreitz enlisted in the Navy in May 1982 as a machinist's mate. After a tour on the USS Nassau, he earned a Bachelor of Science in applied physics and received a commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Most recently he was president of the Board of Inspection and Survey in Virginia Beach, Va.
According to the accounting agency, 73,052 Americans remain unaccounted for from World War II, 7,745 from the Korean War, 1,608 from the Vietnam War, 126 from the Cold War and six from Iraq and other conflicts.
Seventy-five percent of the losses are in the Asia-'Pacific, and more than 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea.
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