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Monthly Archives: March 2008

UK Veterans have started a campaign for a UK National Defence Medal (NDM).

They are demanding full recognition for proud Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen who have protected our nation through all types of political turmoil since the Second World War.

It is their belief that an NDM as recognition for putting yourself at the mercy of the Country’s leaders in the hope it will act in its citizens best interests is fair and reasonable. A medal that can be “officially” worn on parades with pride.

THE CASE FOR A NEW NATIONAL DEFENCE MEDAL.

On the 6th March 2008, Mr. Roy Wilson, London & District Liaison Officer for the National Service Veterans Association and the writer Mr. Charles Lovelace, NSVA, were graciously afforded a meeting at Portcullis House with the Rt. Hon.Don Touhig, Esq., MP, former, Minister for Veterans, to discuss the compelling case for a new National Defence Medal. Both NSVA delegates will then attend the 8th Veterans UK Annual Conference (formally called the Veterans Plenary Forum) in London on the 13th March 2008. This written paper will also be presented at that time and hopefully receive a hearing.

Background.

Over the past few years there have been frequent letters sent to the MoD and to the Government requesting that all veterans, both men and women, irrespective of their form of military engagement should be honoured with a medal. More recently the December 2007, issue of the Soldier Magazine reported that more than 75% of those who contacted the magazine believed that the Government should recognise time spent in military uniform, and in particular those who completed National Service. Sadly various Governments of the day have wittingly excluded National Servicemen and others from proper recognition. In view of this egregious and pernicious mindset it was decided to promote the idea for an all encompassing, National Defence Medal, similar to the Australian National Defence Medal. (Appendix A)

This paper is not intended to be as lengthy as John Milton’s Areopagitica pamphlet published on the 23rd November 1644, during the height of the English Civil War. However as former veterans who have served our country, with honour and fidelity, we like the poet, also believe in the principle of a right to free written expression.

When I and many others have written to the Government, MoD or HD Committee to propose a medal for all servicemen and women, encompassing National Service, Short Service, Regular and Reserve Service the reply is always the same. All the arguments for the award of a medal to honour these men have been made by many ex servicemen to a whole cross section of MPs’ and the majority have been entirely sympathetic. However when these same arguments are put to those MPs’ in various appointments specific to the armed forces and to MoD civil servants, there is a completely different attitude. They appear to be working to a standard script in which any understanding or concern for our loyal service has been sedulously written out.

If the Government is seriously adhering to the Military Covenant then it should recognize all veterans as well as our current gallant servicemen. We do however acknowledge that the Veterans Badge is purely a first step to remedy the just and permanent sense of grievance held by former service men and women.

We are not however in favour of wearing any unofficial or commemorative medals at public ceremonies.

Ctd/2.

OUR AIM.

A NATIONAL DEFENCE MEDAL FOR ALL VETERANS AND CURRENT

SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN OF ALL ARMS + RESERVISTS.

To further the above aim we have approached various RN, RM, Army and RAF Associations, the NSVA, MPs’, Local and National press. To our great pleasure articles have been published in the national press promoting our cause. We have also started our own website which has created great interest both on a national and international basis. We commend it to you. Various MPs’ have registered support. However to be unbiased we also record the *only negative comment. This is from the Rt.Hon.Des Browne, Esq.,MP.,Secretary of State for Defence, who in a reply to a letter sent to him stated ;

“The British Government is under no obligation. There are no plans to introduce a new National Defence Medal. There is nothing further to be gained by continuing this correspondence.”

In contrast however, Mr. Mike Penning, MP wrote; “ I take great pleasure in personally supporting the National Defence Medal and you are quite right that many of the ministers who serve at the MoD have no concept of what it is to serve our country in uniform.” He had the honour to serve in the Grenadier Guards!

http//www.nationaldefencemedal.webs.com

OUR CASE -THE GOVERNMENT, MoD & HD COMMITTEE RESPONSE.

Before presenting our case we ask you to reflect and ponder on the following-

In 2006, the highly acclaimed journalist Tom Brokan , received the prestigious Sylvanus Thayer Award, from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In his acceptance speech he said;

“ I THINK THAT WE HONOUR OURSELVES BY HONOURING OUR PAST.”

1/ Our case is simple, compelling and just. We are seeking a National Defence Medal similar in criteria to that of the Australian Defence Medal. (Appendix A)

2/ We believe that the precedent has been set. The Commonwealth of Australia instituted the Australian Defence Medal. This was formally approved by Her Majesty the Queen and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No: S48 of 30 March 2006 refers.

3/ Even France under Minister of Defence, Charles Hernu and on the proposal from Gen.De Boissieu, instituted the Medaille de la Defense similar in criteria.

Ctd/3.

4/ We do not consider that HD Committee has acted in a fair and equitable manner. We are still trying to determine when the committee last met to discuss the question of medals. We specifically asked the following questions-

1. Have they ever discussed a proposal for a National Service Medal?
2. Has a proposal for a Cold War Medal ever been discussed?
3. When did they last sit to discuss any medal?
4. Is it correct that the last time the HD Committee met was in 2002?

The HD Committee is undemocratic. Democracy is government by all the people through elected representatives giving equality of rights in society. Our rights are blatantly ignored

We are still awaiting a reply to these questions posed in our e-mail dated 08/02/08 at 09:29:52 GMT Standard Time. If necessary we will make an application under the Freedom of Information Act to secure this information.

5/ We believe that the Rt. Hon. Des Browne, Esq., has a duty with his Minister for Veterans to ensure that veterans are properly recognised. His indifference is both incredible and shameful. We note with astonishment his comment made during his recent visit to the ATR Bassingbourn , that “Politicians do not do medals, nor should they- it is not a political decision.”

THE OFFICIAL RESPONSE.

The replies received from the Government, MoD and HD Committee are all off the same hymn sheet and from the same template.

Re: 1. The standard reply is that Australia withdrew from the Imperial Honours System in the mid 1970s. Any awards are the sole responsibility of that country and have no bearing on the rules pertaining to medals instituted in the UK.

Re: 2. Hence No Precedent has been set. *Our Legal Counsel advises otherwise. Also, Her Gracious Majesty the Queen who is head of our Armed Forces promulgated the Australian National Defence Medal. (Appendix A)

Re: 3. This point relating to the French stance has been studiously ignored.

Re: 4. In his letter Dt.7th February 2008 Mr. Denis Brennan, Secretary of the HD Committee- Cabinet Office- replying on behalf of all its members dismisses out of hand the proposal for a new National Defence Medal.

Ctd/4.

He then goes on to state that even if the Armed Forces were to submit a case on the lines suggested the HD Committee would not endorse any suggestion to issue the medal retrospectively, as this would contravene their long maintained five- year rule.

The Committee will not consider any case for service that was carried out more than five years previously

*Perhaps the HD Committee has forgotten that this rule is already in disrepute. We know that a precedent has already been established, historically twice. The first time was in 1846 to honour the Battle of Waterloo, of 1815. The Suez Canal Medal was issued retrospectively after 52 years, with the risible claim that this was a one ‘off’. This was after an unnecessary, acrimonious, lengthy and intense lobbying campaign by our associate and a prime mover the late Charles Golder, MBE, who served as a regular soldier attaining the final rank of Regimental Sergeant Major. They also conveniently forget that Her Gracious Majesty the Queen is head of our Armed Forces and that she has allowed a similar medal to the one that we suggest for the Commonwealth of Australia.

Re: 5 *The statement can only be disingenuous. Of course the Government of the day, the MoD and its specific ministers play a part in the medals scenario.

CONCLUSION.

It is apparent that the Government, MoD and HD Committee are uncaring.

The case for a National Defence Medal is reasonable. However all of the above continue to prevaricate. This is ill behoves them, since by doing so they insult the intelligence of veterans. Such continued intransigence and misplaced hubris is to be deplored.

The majority of the ‘body politic’ and those in the ‘corridors of power’ have never served in uniform. This unaccountable cabal of decision makers has never experienced the rigours of basic training, let alone the personal determination required for the Pegasus Company selection or for the RM Commando Course. Consequently they can never comprehend the comradeship, which shared hardships imbue. They are thus unable to say; “I had the honour to serve.” Despite their exalted posts in Government, the MoD or HD Committee, even with an occasional visit to the officer’s mess or to a combat unit in the field, they still do not understand the military ethos. Having never served they can hardly fathom the élan and panache of certain regiments. They must remain as ever, ‘mere’ spectators to honour and tradition.

As the celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson, (1709-1784) stated in his often quoted discourse with James Boswell , (1740-1795) ; “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.”

We can justly and proudly say; “WE SERVED.” We may rightfully then ask, “who are you to sit in judgement over our reasonable and compelling case for a new National Defence Medal?”
Ctd/5

Quite simply if they think so, they should take time out to read the following letter which can be found on our website- http//www.nationaldefencemedal.webs.com –or alternatively-

http//www.soldiermagazine.co.uk/mail_archive/medals.htm

CONCLUSION CONTINUED – “THE LETTER.”

I served as a Cold War warrior from 1972-84, including six years in Germany, where the invasion of West Berlin was taken as a real threat. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan everything on wheels, tracks and jet powered was mobilised.

For nine months of the year we perfected our craft in the art of radio communications; all traffic was in real time in all weathers under all conditions, and if you have not experienced a German winter at 2 a.m.on the Deister Ridge you do not know what cold is.

All elements of the British Army of the Rhine were ready and willing to repel the Russian Bear. When not on exercise we were putting out forest fires and patrolling the inner German border, guarding atomic rocket and warhead sites.

Living in field conditions, eating field rations, burdened with weapons and back- packs, month after month, took its toll, but we did it with a will and solid determination.

Now I’m a civilian, I have nothing to show that I served my country. That is why I will stand on the sidelines and applaud the be-medalled warriors who were able to prove themselves under fire.

The Veterans Badge I wear on my lapel is no substitute for a more tangible symbol of time served as a soldier. What’s left of Gt. Britain? A medal would suffice.

*This is a singularly passionate and cogent letter.

We demand to be treated in the same manner that other countries treat their veterans. We will continue to campaign as long as is necessary for a National Defence Medal. We believe that we have a just, lawful and compelling case. We require answers to the questions posed with the HD Committee and maintain that it, with Government and the MoD have all manifestly failed in their duty.

Finally the onus now lies with the Government, MoD and members of the HD Committee to show some humility and rectify this unhappy situation. If they fail to act they will suffer obloquy.

Charles Lovelace. RMV202910- 20/06/1956. (Mne.)

Member NSVA & RMA HQ Roll Life Member.

RM Green Beret Commando Association Member.

Former 2Lt. RM & Lt.RMV- Queen’s Regt. 6/7(V) HSF Officer.

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SSG Maupin

The body of Staff Sergeant Keith Maupin, the American soldier who was captured and murdered nearly four years ago, has finally been officially identified.

Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin’s parents vowed to never let the U.S. Army forget about finding their son. Their efforts included trips to the Pentagon and even meeting with President Bush, but they ended in disappointment Sunday: An Army general told them the remains of Maupin, a soldier who had been listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004, had been found.
“My heart sinks, but I know they can’t hurt him anymore,” Keith Maupin said after receiving word about the remains of his son, who went by Matt.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed sympathy to Maupin’s family. “This has been especially difficult for the Maupin family because of not knowing for almost exactly four years. So I want to extend my condolences,” Gates said, speaking to reporters aboard a flight to Denmark.
The Army didn’t say how or where in Iraq his son’s remains were discovered, only that the identification was made with DNA testing, Maupin said. A shirt similar to the one his son was wearing at the time of his disappearance was also found.
[…]
Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy, part of the Bartonville, Ill.-based 724th Transportation Company, was ambushed west of Baghdad. A week later, the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape showing a stunned-looking Maupin wearing camouflage and a floppy desert hat, sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles. That June, Al-Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim’s head and not the execution.
The Maupins refused to believe their son was dead. They lobbied hard for the Army to continue listing him as missing-captured, fearing that another designation would undermine efforts to find him. The Pentagon agreed to give the Maupins regular briefings, and Bush met with them when he traveled to Cincinnati.
Keith Maupin said the Army told him soon after his son’s capture that there was only a 50 percent chance he would be found alive. He said he doesn’t hold the Army responsible for his son’s death, but that he did hold the Army responsible for bringing his son home. “I told them when we’d go up to the Pentagon, whether he walks off a plane or is carried off, you’re not going to leave him in Iraq like you did those guys in Vietnam,” Maupin said.
[…]
Four U.S. service members remain missing in Iraq: Capt. Michael Speicher, a Navy pilot, has been missing since the 1991 Persian Gulf War; Sgt. Ahmed al-Taie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born reserve soldier from Ann Arbor, Mich., was abducted while visiting his Iraqi wife in October 2006 in Baghdad, and Pfc. Byron Fouty and Sgt. Alex Jimenez have been missing since May 12.

THUIS MAGAZINE DUTCH VETERANS WREATH LAYING

For my buddy Hans thijssen

Hey Hans how about a translation.

Download



http://wmserver.infothuis.nl/infothuistv/093_mag1.wmv

VFA Wounded Warrior Registry

Veterans for America works with servicemembers and veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure that they are getting the treatment they need for psychological wounds and/or traumatic brain injuries. If a servicemember or veteran feels that they are not getting the help they need, we talk with their military commanders, or we work with the VA to get them help. We also work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to make sure that our national leaders realize the scope of the challenges our military is facing.

VFA has launched a new service to help wounded warriors. Below, you’ll find a form asking for basic information if you have been wounded in battle, and you feel like you’re not getting the help you need. Please fill it out, and someone from VFA will be in touch with you shortly to talk about what can be done to help.

Note that required fields are marked in red.

Registration Page

Walz, who was elected to Congress in 2006, is the highest-ranking enlisted servicemen to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Like the Hecimoviches, Walz also holds the rank of command sergeant major in the Minnesota National Guard.

During the two-week Easter break, Walz has been holding medal ceremonies and veterans forums throughout the 1st District.

Of his three House committee assignments, agriculture, transportation and infrastructure and veterans affairs, the latter has seen his passion for patriots surface repeatedly.

With the global backdrop of more unpopular wars on people’s minds and the weekend’s debut of a state holiday to observe sacrifices made in another unpopular war — Vietnam —- Walz admonished the audience, “Don’t ever make the mistake of confusing the war with the warrior.”

In other opening remarks, he said the nation has both a moral responsibility and an obligation to its security to take care of its soldiers.

He said the Department of Veterans Affairs is getting better at doing that, but, he added, “There’s still a long ways to go.”

To him, it’s a given. “If you spend billions to put soldiers in harm’s way, you spend billions to get them out and then you have to take care of them, too,” he said.

In a free-wheeling comment and question-and-answer period, Walz became a target at one point for criticism, when an unidentified veteran blamed him for not helping the veteran receive benefits.

Walz took the obscenity-laced criticism unflinchingly.

The questions ranged from the unfairness of disability ratings to the lack of mandatory full funding for the VA budget to arbitrarily taking benefits from Level VIII veterans.

A veteran complained of being denied benefits, “because the VA said my hearing loss was due to cutting the grass with a loud lawn mower instead of loading artillery shells.”

Another veteran urged the congressman to continue to push for enforcement of the Veterans Preference law to guarantee veterans their jobs upon returning home from active duty.

A Cold War-era sailor said he was denied benefits even though “I was exposed to two atomic bomb blasts when I was on a ship at sea.”

A Vietnam-era veteran said he was 100 percent disabled after being exposed to Agent Orange chemicals. He went to the Mayo Clinic instead of the VA Hospital in Minneapolis and “now I spend my veteran benefits checks on my medical bills, which are huge.”

While the congressman’s aides took notes to follow-up on veterans’ requests, Walz fielded more questions and heard more complaints.

That was what he apparently wanted to happen.

“The message has been wherever we have gone, ‘Take care of the soldier,’” he said. . . .

Earlier this afternoon, when Walz stepped into the phone banking room, a volunteer handed him a phone almost immediately; she had just called a man who said he had two sons deployed in Iraq and she thought the congressman might want to thank him for his family’s service to the country. Once he was off the line, Tim shared more about the family. One of the sons was home on leave because a very young child had died; the soldier only received ten days leave. Walz, the father of two young children, said he would have his congressional staff contact the Pentagon to see if the leave could be extended, then continued phone banking.

Since listening to only half of a phone conversation isn’t too exciting, we stepped over to the auditorium where the Olmsted County DFL had convened. Inside, John Pearce, an Army Reservist who served in Iraq and Kuwait, had just begun a passionate speech on Walz’s behalf. He spoke first of getting involved in politics because of his disagreement with “national security policy when it came to Iraq.”

Pearce had attended Republican events to find out where the three candidates for the GOP noimnation stood. As a veteran he was appalled:

I listened to Randy Demmer at a county convention say, ” The number one responsibility of the federal government is national security. When he was done speaking I was left asking myself, “That’s it?” He talked about national security but never mentioned the words “Iraq, Afghanistan or Osama bin Laden…

Brian Davis, on the other hand, states his Iraq policy as “we need to stay the course, we need to keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.” We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed. That’s Davis’s plan. Is that what I’m supposed to tell my mother when I have to break her heart again, when I get deployed for a third time? Well Mom, we have no cohesive Iraq strategy but Brian Davis and the GOP have their fingers crossed for me. . .

. . .But Brian Davis also has another saying, “Democrats can’t even say the phrase ‘Radical Islam’ and if they can’t say it, how can they fight it?” Well, I can physically say the phrase ‘Radical Islam’ but choose not to demagogue an entire culture based on a handful of lunatics. As Democrats, we are a party of diversity and we are better that this. Just because I choose not to say the phrase, by no means makes me incapable of fighting terrorism. And now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing Brian Davis or Randy Demmer on any of my 8000 plus miles of Iraq convoys. In fact, the only congressional candidate the [MN-01] Republicans had with military service, they excommunicated….

We talked briefly with Pierce after his speech and were able to get a copy of his words. He had written the text out before the GOP endorsement was known. Powerful stuff, indeed.

more on this story at http://www.bluestemprairie.com

News Story Austin Daily Herald Walz fields questions at vets’ forum

2008 race, Afghanistan, Iraq War, MN-01, Tim

Bulletin From Milblogging.com.

Hi everyone! It`s JP, webmaster of Milblogging.com. As many of you know, I`m a member of Bad Voodoo Platoon and I’m currently deployed in support of OIF. Over the last year, several of us includi ng fellow military blogger Toby Nunn, have been videotaping our experience. Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes) has made a film for FRONTLINE called Bad Voodoo`s War that will be airing on April 1st. The details are below:

BAD VOODOO`S WAR

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

9 P.M. (check local listings)

In June 2007, as the American military surge reached its peak, a band of National Guard infantrymen who call themselves “The Bad Voodoo Platoon” was deployed to Iraq. To capture a vivid, first-person account of the new realities of war in Iraq for FRONTLINE and ITVS, director Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes) created a “virtual embed” with the platoon, supplying camer as to the soldiers so they could record and tell the story of their war. The film intimately tracks the veteran soldiers of “Bad Voodoo” through the daily grind of their perilous mission, dodging deadly IEDs, grappling with the political complexities of dealing with Iraqi security forces, and battling their fatigue and their fears.

Watch a preview now at: pbs.org/frontline/badvoodoo

Visit the PBS pressroom for press release and
photography.
www.pbs.org/pressroom

Online starting April 1.

Keep in mind, if you intend to respond to this e-mail, please write back to me at milblogging@gmail.com (I`m currently in the process of transferring email accounts, but the best place to re ach me for now is milblogging@gmail.com )

Calculator for Veterans eligible for stimulus payments

Podcast: Economic Stimulus Payment (mp3) Running time 6:14

A new online calculator will give you an estimate of the stimulus payment you may be due. Just answer a few questions and the calculator will do the rest. Remember: you must file a 2007 tax return in order to receive the payment.

Payments will start May 2. The last two-digits of your Social Security number and whether you opted for direct deposit into your financial account or a paper check will determine when you receive your payment.

Super Saturday — March 29 – Approximately 320 IRS offices located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be open on Super Saturday to prepare the simple Form 1040A for people who are filing a return solely to receive their stimulus payment. Operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., although some may be open longer. IRS employees will help prepare the Form 1040A returns for low-income workers, retirees, disabled veterans and others. Super Saturday Locations for March 29

You May Be Eligible Even if You Normally Do Not File a Tax Return – If you have at least $3,000 in certain types of income, you may be eligible for the economic stimulus payment. You also may be able to use Free File – Economic Stimulus Payment. See the special types of benefits or income that qualify below:

Rebate Scam Alert – Be aware that identity thieves are already pushing scams involving the stimulus payments. At least one telephone scam is making the rounds using the proposed rebates as bait. News release IR-2008-11, IRS Warns of New E-Mail and Telephone Scams Using the IRS Name; Advance Payment Scams Starting, has more details.

En Español – Pagos de Estímulo Económico: Conozca sobre los pagos del estímulo económico, a cuanto ascienden los pagos y cuando estos se enviaran a los contribuyentes.

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Veterans set to meet in D.C. can you attend?

Please repost liberally

SAVE THE DATES!

April 30 – MAY 1, 2008WASHINGTON, DC

PLAN TO ATTEND BOTH EVENTS!

April 30 — Meeting of AMERICAN COLD WAR VETERANS– Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima

1501 Arlington Blvd. Arlington, VA 2209-3001

Phone 703-524-5000 or 800-424-1501

Rate 135.99 Group Code 1121

(Group to assemble in lobby at 12:30pm, April 30th)

Visit the Hotel website for directions here.

May 1 – NATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR FORGOTTEN HEROES OF THE COLD WAR!

(Contact ftims@aol.com)

May 1 – CONGRESSIONAL BREAKFAST 7:30-8:30 – Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building

FOLLOWED BY visits to your senators and representatives

11:30 – Travel to Arlington National Cemetery — “Remembering Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War” Ceremony sponsored by American Cold War Veterans and the White House Commission on Remembrance. Ceremony begins at 12 noon, followed by visits to Korean War, Vietnam War, USS Thresher, and Laos memorials

Military searches for members lost in past wars

by NC Sentinel

Medill Reports – Washington, DC, USA

Military searches for members lost in past wars
by Joyce Chang
Mar 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — As people observe the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war this week, the American military continues a labor-intensive search for troops lost long ago in other conflicts.

“As long as the American public finds this mission necessary, we will continue searching,” said Air Force Capt. Mary Olsen, a public affairs officer for the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel office. “There is no timeline for finishing it.” Olsen said the military identifies the remains of nearly 100 service members per year.

“The goal is that we are trying to work ourselves out of a job,” said Jim Russell, chief of the missing persons branch at the Air Force Personnel Center, which updates military families on search efforts. “We are trying to account for all the unaccounted for.”

Once investigative teams pinpoint an area believed to contain human remains, the Hawaii-based Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) sends an excavation team led by forensic anthropologists and diggers, according to JPAC spokesman Troy Kitch.

The team divides the area into sections to keep track of the digging, Kitch said. Grid by grid, they dig until they reach soil that has not been impacted by a crash or burial, which they can tell by the characteristics of the soil. Kitch said that if the team finds remains on the outer edges of a grid, they must dig two grids out from there and keep expanding until they no longer find any more remains. This process typically takes nearly 30 to 40 days, according to Kitch.

Once the team has gathered all the remains at a site, an Army Central Identification Laboratory scientist makes a biological profile based on key characteristics such as age, race, sex, stature and fracture lines. JPAC boasts that is has the world’s largest forensic anthropology lab, with sophisticated “crime scene” level identification technology, according to Kitch.

Olsen said the condition of remains really varies and that, for example, older remains from World War II may be easier to identify and more complete than those from Vietnam, which has more acidic soil. Dental records are the primary way that remains are identified, often combined with historical evidence, Kitch said.

Kitch said that in about 75 percent of cases, the office must go a step further and use DNA testing. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab in Rockville, Md., extracts DNA from the bones of remains. Since the military did not routinely get DNA samples from service members until 1992, older remains are almost exclusively identified using Mitochondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited and, because it is not unique to families or individuals, it is used as more of an exclusionary tool for determining whether an individual is related to others.

For example, Jackie Raskin-Burns, a supervisory DNA analyst at the lab, said about 7 percent of Caucasians share the same Mitochondrial DNA profile. If Mitochondrial DNA of remains does not match the DNA of an expected maternal relative, then that person is excluded from being considered for that identification. If there is a match, the lab must consider how prevalent that particular DNA profile is in the population that they’re considering.

Olsen said the military sometimes hires genealogists to locate family members and to obtain DNA samples if they believe they are close to an identification but need DNA to verify it.

In 1992, the military began collecting Nuclear DNA, which is longer-lasting and unique to each individual, from service members.

Even when DNA is tested, the forensic evidence is compared with historical information such as eyewitness accounts of a plane crash, and with material evidence such as recovered plane parts that match the type of airplane a person was lost in.

The DNA lab officials acknowledged that there are occasionally disputes with families over identification and that some choose to have independent testing done.

However, some families of service members whose remains have been recovered are relieved for the closure that the investigations bring.

Julie Zouzounis of California was surprised last fall by news that, after 35 years, the military had found her father’s remains.

“All of the sudden it brings back all those old feelings and that sense of loss again,” Zouzounis said, who was a child when her father, Air Force Maj. John L. Carroll, died.

Carroll was lost in a plane crash in Vietnam on Nov. 7, 1972. Zouzounis said two rescue attempts at the time were unsuccessful and that her family never expected to recover any remains, especially considering that a 2,000-pound bomb had been dropped on the crash site.

Olsen said that, for many families, it is as though the casualty happened yesterday. Russell said the reaction from families ranges from a “hug or handshake and a ‘thank you’” to anger from families who are still hurting and blame the government.