Category: Vietnam War

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Additions and Updates – August 1, 2013

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Unknown Soldiers: DNA technology makes it possible for their remains to be identified.

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Unknown soldiers can be identified!

More than 83,000 US service members lost since the start of WWII are still missing, according to a representative of the Department of Defence. Several lie in forgotten graves on the battlefield and below memorials offering no clue to their identities.

New techniques in DNA technology may mean we have seen the last burial of an unknown soldier. In offices and laboratories across the country and archaeological sites scattered across continents, groups of investigators and scientists comb the remains of the past for lost defenders.

In the US, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and also the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), based in Arlington, Virginia keep case files on each missing sailor, soldier, Marine and airman.

Researchers at JPAC and DPMO establish possible sites of remains. A team of archaelogists visited North Korea in 2004 and located skeletal remains of thirty individuals tossed haphazardly into a mass grave close to Chosin Reservoir. They shipped the bones to JPAC in Honolulu, where the bones were used to find gender, age, ancestry, and distinguishing marks. The process can take anywhere from two weeks to one year, depending on the existing backlog. Frustratingly, the original sample may not be enough and in that case, they must restart from the beginning.

For the remains whose DNA is successfully processed, the researchers will try and match them with DNA samples taken from thousands of possible family members.

Two of my great uncles, Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery and Private Joseph Turmaine, were reported missing in action in WWI and I would be thrilled to have their remains recovered.

Take advantage of free military records searches in honor of Memorial Day!

A great opportunity to find those military ancestors!

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Ancestry.com is offering access to free military records over the weekend in honor of Memorial Day! From Thursday, May 23rd through Monday, May 27th, Ancestry.com is offering free access to Search Military Recordsthat include new military collections, draft, enlistment and service records.

This is your opportunity to start researching your family’s military heroes.

FamilyLink.com is also offering free military records searches on their site until May 28th.  The free access is to their entire FamilyLink Military Collection.  Journey back in time to learn more about your ancestors during some of the most important conflicts in the world’s history that impacted millions of families in the United States of America and many other countries worldwide.

I have several ancestors who were military and I fully intend to take advantage of this free access for my own research.

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions

 

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Ancestry.com and New York Archives Agree to Make New York State Records Available for Free

New York CityAs a result of an agreement between several New York local and state resources and Ancestry.com, a database is being made available on Ancestry.com for free access to New York residents.

The State Archives of New York will continue to add documentary records, in addition to video, audio and photographic images from agriculture, maps, immigration, child labor, environment, commerce and the Erie Canal.

Some of the records already available include New York Town Clerks’ Registers of Men in the Civil War, New York Military Equipment Claims, records of the War of 1812, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts and New York Marriages.

For the rest of us poor ‘saps’ who are not New york residents, the records are available as part of existing subscriptions, by signing up for the 14-day trial subscription offered, or by purchasing a full subscription to Ancestry.com.

If you’re a New York resident: www.archives.nysed.gov; click on “Find Family History Records” (middle of screen); click on “Ancestry/NY”; follow the online instructions. DO NOT register for the 14 day free trial, but as a resident of New York.

DNA Solves Mystery for the Child of the Last US Soldier Killed in Vietnam

On Friday, the family of John O’Neal Rucker gathered with Tia McConnell and her husband Allan and their two boys Matthew and Quentin at the Veterans’ Memorial at Linden’s courthouse to honor her newly discovered father.

Tia had been an orphan in Da Nang, and was adopted by Karen and Jack Whittier of Colorado after being evacuated from Vietnam. After a lengthy and problematic search for her birth family, Tia discovered that John Rucker was her father.

She honored her father with placement of a flag at the monument that recognized him as the last American soldier to die in Vietnam. Rucker had been a member of 366 Combat Support Group, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War, and was the last American soldier to die in Vietnam, having been killed by a rocket attack on January 27, 1973. Sadly, this attack and John’s subsequent death occurred only hours before the Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending the Vietnam War.

Mae Rucker, John’s mother, had met Tia and her family the day before, after Tia’s search led to John and DNA testing proved the connection. Despite a negative first test in comparison to John’s mother, they persevered and had another test done to confirm the result. This time her DNA was compared with John’s two sisters and the tests were positive, indicating a 91 percent match, which is impossible unless the parties are closely related.

This story has finally convinced Mark and I to get our DNA tested. It’s something I’ve been considering for quite a while now, but I’ve been hesitant because I wasn’t sure I trusted the process enough yet.

Mark and I want to test our DNA rather than our children’s because we feel it would allow us to maintain separation of the data from our two different branches. I’m curious to find if my suspicions are correct and there are commonalities between the two branches.

I’ll post later about the process and results.