OUTSIDE DAEGU, South Korea — Alec Christensen checks his maps one more time, then takes in the landscape around him, breaking into a grin.
“Does this feel like the sort of place you'd stop on patrol?” he asked his military counterpart, Capt. Tomika Robinson. “Look at the visibility from here. You can see everything!”
He’s standing in the woods at the top of a small hill, deep in the South Korean countryside. Sixty-nine years ago, an American scout unit crawled through this area, then hostile North Korean territory, during the early months of the Korean War. Only a few of them made it back.
Now, Christensen and his team — a handful of Army anthropologists and analysts, a linguist, some bomb techs — are retracing their steps, hoping to find evidence of what happened to those who disappeared out here.
They’re part of a little known piece of the military called the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and their job is an almost impossible one: find the bodies of service members still missing in action from long-ago wars, and bring closure to their families.
VICE News got rare inside peek into these missions that never quit, traveling with Christensen and his team as they scoured ravines and talked to local village elders, hoping to find those still MIA before it’s too late.
This segment originally aired Sept. 6, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.