“The Fullest Accountability”: A Conversation With Ann Mills-Griffiths About The POW / MIA Issue
Ann Mills Griffiths
Ann Mills-Griffiths grew up in a patriotic family. Her father was one of eleven children, and all but one served in WWII. Her two brothers both served in the Navy during the Vietnam war. Her younger brother, Jimmy, flew 148 missions off USS Midway as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) on his first tour, and was 7 missions into his second tour on USS Coral Sea when he was lost on September 21, 1966. The family never knew what happened to him, and his body was never recovered. She remembers when her family was notified that Jimmy was Missing in Action. Paul Briggs, the Bakersfield High School football coach and a family friend, conducted the notification in his role as Commander in the Naval Reserve. The loss of her brother was the impetus for her father, and later for her, to become involved in the League of POW / MIA Families, and it became her lifetime mission to bring closure to as many families as possible. Miraculously, her brother’s aircraft was discovered on the seabed by fishermen who snagged their net on the wreckage. After several attempts, divers were able to recover remains for both the pilot and her brother, James B. Mills.
In this interview, she talks about the role of the League of POW / MIA families, how she is able to influence politicians in Washington and in Hanoi, and how the League has evolved over the past four decades. She shares stories from individual families, and relates their experiences to her own. She discusses several key politicians from both the United States and Vietnam, and how personal relationships with them have helped her advance her mission. She highlights her efforts around the world, including work with Russian (Soviet) Air Defense records that have shed light on several aircraft that were shot down during the Vietnam War by North Vietnamese crews with Soviet advisors. Finally, she talks about the timelessness of the issue, and ongoing efforts to recover and identify remains from WWII and Korea.