Long after they died, military sees surge in identifications.

Long after they died, military sees surge in identifications.


Nearly 77 years after repeated torpedo strikes tore into the USS Oklahoma, killing hundreds of sailors and Marines, Carrie Brown leaned over the remains of a serviceman laid out on a table in her lab and was surprised the bones still smelled of burning oil from that horrific day at Pearl Harbor.

Featured image: Unidentified soldiers’ remains returning home.

It was a visceral reminder of the catastrophic attack that pulled the United States into World War II, and it added an intimacy to the painstaking work Brown and hundreds of others are now doing to greatly increase the number of lost American servicemen who have been identified.

It’s a monumental mission that combines science, history and intuition, and it’s one Brown and her colleagues have recently been completing at ramped-up speed, with identifications expected to reach 200 annually, more than triple the figures from recent years.

“There are families still carrying the torch,” said Brown, a forensic anthropologist with the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s lab near Omaha, Nebraska. “It’s just as important now as it was 77 years ago.”

Officials believe remains of nearly half of the 83,000 unidentified service members killed in World War II and more recent wars could be identified and returned to relatives. The modern effort to identify remains started in 1973 and was primarily based in Hawaii until a second lab was opened in 2012 at Offutt Air Force Base in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue.

With an intensified push, the identifications climbed from 59 in 2013 to 183 last year and at least 200 and possibly a few more this year . . .

Read on . . .

Source: Long after they died, military sees surge in identifications