MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
A group specializing in recovering service members listed as missing in action visited the local Marine Corps Aviation Association chapter at the Sonoran Pueblo here to spread awareness of their mission Feb. 19, 2010.
Moore’s Marauders is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that travels the world searching for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, but were never found.
Speaking to a room full of Marine pilots, perhaps the message that brought the point home for many of those attending the meeting was that of retired Navy Vice Adm. Joe Mobley, speaking about his plane being shot down over Vietnam June 24, 1968.
“I was a prisoner of war for five years,” said Mobley, who serves as the chairman of the Marauders’ board. “But for 18 months, I was listed as missing in action, and the word was that I would probably never come back. It happened to me, it can happen to anyone in this room. This isn’t meant to scare you; it’s just showing the importance of the MIA recovery mission.”
“There is a common misperception that the years can diminish or eliminate the feeling of loss and lack of closure that is felt,” said Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, commanding general of Marine Forces Pacific. “I can tell you from my experience with many families that isn’t the case.”
According to their Web site, the mission of the Marauders is to use any means available to find, identify and help return to their families the remains of American servicemen who died unaccounted for on foreign soil. The Marauders will go anywhere in the world in pursuit of their mission undeterred by political, cultural or physical challenges.
“More than 92,000 American servicemen are currently listed as missing in action,” said Ken Moore, the group’s founder and chief executive officer. “At the rate the federal government finds MIAs, it would take more than 400 years to find the MIAs from just World War II.”
Organized in 1999, a diverse array of volunteers make up the Marauders.
“The Marines pride themselves on never leaving a man behind,” said Gerry Flowers, Marauder team leader and former Marine. “To a certain extent, this mission is the fulfillment of that covenant.”
The mission to find the fallen MIAs make the Marauders purveyors of closure, said Moore.
“We are recovering the fallen and hopefully bringing closure to their families and nation,” said Flowers, who saw combat in Vietnam. “As a former Marine sergeant, I understand a family’s pain at losing their brother, son or father. How much worse to never know what happened to them or where they rest?”
To learn more about Moore’s Marauders, visit www.mooresmarauders.org or call 480-214-2567.