By Jim Emerson, staff writer
The motto of The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is “Until they are home.” Their mission is achieve an accounting of all unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. JPAC’s day-to-day operations involves researching case files, investigating leads, excavating sites and identifying Americans who were killed in action that were never brought home. JPAC teams often find themselves having to negotiate with America’s former enemies to bring back this nation’s fallen warriors. (2)
JPAC’s Headquarters is located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. They have detachments in South East Asian countries. Nevertheless, their mission is global, so JPAC has 18 recovery teams that travel the world in search of and the recovery of remains. Each team consists of 10 to 14 specialists and is led by a leader. A forensic anthropologist, is also part of every team and is there when the teams excavate sights based on research of battle sites, unit records and recorded after action interviews. Once the site is located the team begins the search to recover the fallen warrior and any artifacts that may help in the identification process. This process may take 35 to 60 days depending on the location or environment the team has to deal with.
Once the remains and artifacts are found they are forwarded to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory for further analysis. Then the waiting begins; it may take about six months for a positive identification. The JPAC averages about 6 recovery and identifications per month. Once the remains are identified they are handed over to the appropriate service Mortuary Affairs office where the warrior is returned to his family and a grateful nation.
George Washington said “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Along with the living we must never forget the brave souls who died in the service of this wonderful nation……………