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Retired Air Force general to lead POW/MIA Accounting Agency

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague delivers remarks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam-Hawaii on Jan. 30, 2015.

CHRISTOPHER HUBENTHAL/U.S. AIR FORCE

By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Tribune News Service) | Published: September 6, 2017

The Pentagon announced today that retired Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague is the new director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The agency that searches for, recovers and identifies missing American war dead has not had a permanent director since Michael Linnington left in June 2016.

DPAA, which replaced the former Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, has a lab and offices at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and is headquartered in Washington D.C.

McKeague, who was born in Liliha and grew up in Papakolea, was sworn in this morning at a Pentagon ceremony.

“I know the importance of the agency’s mission and I look forward to working with DPAA’s team of dedicated professionals,” McKeague said in a release.

Fern Sumpter Winbush, who has been serving as acting director, will resume her role as principal deputy director for the agency, responsible for formulating policy, overseeing business development, and increasing outreach initiatives, the Pentagon said.

McKeague, who served as an independent business consultant since his military retirement from the Air Force in 2016, is no stranger to DPAA and its forerunner, JPAC.

McKeague was the last commander of JPAC before it was renamed DPAA in an organizational shakeup in early 2015. The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, JPAC and some functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory merged to create DPAA.

McKeague in late 2012 took command of JPAC from 1967 Punahou graduate Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, inheriting an MIA recovery effort plagued by inefficiency. That effort, conducted by a handful of agencies around the country, was fragmented, redundant and hampered by interagency disputes, a July 2013 Government Accountability Office report said.

In March 2014 then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced he was overhauling and combining JPAC and other Pentagon accounting units. McKeague was tapped for the post of interim deputy director.

Linnington, a retired Army lieutenant general, was named DPAA’s first permanent director in June 2015. He resigned a year later to become chief executive officer of the Wounded Warrior Project.

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