“OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE — A forensics lab has opened at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha with a special mission: identify the remains of missing soldiers, sailors and airmen from past wars.
The lab has been constructed inside a section of the massive former Martin bomber plant on the base, which is where the B-29 bomber Enola Gay was assembled before its crew dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan to help end World War II.
The lab is a satellite of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, known as JPAC, which is based in Hawaii. The command is overseeing the identification of the remains of more than 83,000 Americans who still are listed as missing from past wars. The accounting command’s motto is “Until They Are Home…”
I was delighted to read this news in the Lincoln Journal-Star Online.
As my readers know, an important subplot in my new novel, TIME FALL concerns the use of forensics to identify the body of a soldier found in Germany who has been Missing in Action since 1945.
I deeply admire the work of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) investigators. These personnel are often usually military veterans. Their work, often unnoticed and inadequately funded, brings closure and a measure of relief to hundreds, if not thousands of families yearly. Like detectives–but unlike those NCIS investigators whose lives seem so action packed, they use a variety of scientific and “gumshoe” techniques to provide identities to unknown remains. They comb through service records, forensic reports, DNA tests and letters from family members. They face the arduous work of interviewing surviving comrades of those Missing in Action.
Hats’ off to JPAC and the Offutt lab.