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Chris Van Cleave

This project was born out of my desire to visit the crash site where my father, Lt. Col. Water Van Cleave, had been shot down into a dense jungle on the side of a mountain in Laos as a F-4 fighter pilot in 1969 during the Vietnam War.

Thirty-six years later, while I was primary caregiver for my mother, who had Alzheimer's, I received an unexpected call from JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) stating that they had a window of time to excavate the area where they believed my father had been shot down in Laos.  They needed a family blood sample to match DNA of possible human remains that could be found.  During the months that followed, with my research into JPAC and the National League of POW/MIA Families, it became very clear that there was an opportunity to tell the stories of those Americans serving in the military who had not returned home from war, along with the stories of their families that are still looking for answers.

My wish, as a son who has walked the journey of never knowing truly what happened to my father and experiencing the consequences that occurred in my family, is to help bring a greater awareness to the American public --  an awareness of the sacrifices made by these service members, their family members, and of the many organizations working diligently in the background to bring those that are still unaccounted-for home.

There are approximately 83,000 Americans missing and unaccounted-for from foreign wars since WWII with over 1,600 unaccounted-for Americans from the Vietnam War.  Time is running out for these stories to be told…

With your help and the support of the related dedicated organizations I have connected with so far, this initial documentary, which will include the stories of three to four families, will be produced.  Following its release, we are planning to produce a documentary series to tell the stories of many other American POW's, MIA's and their families.

I recently discovered a cassette tape that my father recorded in Vietnam describing his last Christmas Eve and morning to send to my family. He described candidly and respectfully his life and surrounding events while doing his best to keep spirits and morale positive. Listening to my father's voice for the first time in 44 years was a powerfully moving expericne for me.  Shortly thereafter, I re-recorded my vocal on the song "Not Forgotten," which I had written in 2012. Visit our Song page to hear this song and enjoy the music video created by Phil Dixon from our performance aboard the D.O.D. float at the Veteran's Day parade, and from other footage from our filming at events during 2013.

The following photo montage will give you a glimpse of what is in store.  We invite you to see how you can get involved with this project by visiting the INVITE page.  We greatly appreciate whatever support you can give.

Chris Van Cleave

 
     
Click below for some glimpses of the project
   
     
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