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DNA link can still bring home missing soldiers

DNA link can still

bring home missing soldiers

     The following letter was written in an Ann Landers column and shared by Vern Swanson, 99th Infantry Division MIA Project.

Dear Ann Landers:

     You and your readers have long honored the sacrifices made by this nation's servicemen and women whose contributions around the world guarantee the freedoms we cherish. Some of these servicemen and women never returned from their tours of duty. There are about 88,000 heroes still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Cold War, and World War II. My office is charged to locate and return these missing service personnel, and to do that, I need your help.

     In recent years, the Department of Defense has been able to take advantage of some of the latest forensic identification of human remains by matching them with a blood sample of a maternal family member — even if the person has been missing for more than 60 years! By obtaining blood samples of thousands of family members, our scientists have built an extensive database. In spite of our work with veterans, family organizations, and veterans' agencies, however, we are far short of our goal to reach all the families of unaccounted-for service members.

     If your readers know of a family member who is from the maternal bloodline of an unaccounted-for serviceman, please ask them to put that person in touch with the military services. Many famiy members have told us they want to leave this legacy behind in the event their loved one's remains are recovered years in the future. Our work all over the world brings back the remains of service personnel almost every week. This one DNA link to their families may well be the only link that will lead to an identification.

     The military services and their contact numbers are:

     Army: 1-800-892-2490

     Air Force: 1-800-531-5601

     Navy: 1-800-443-9298

     Marines: 1-800-847-1597

J. Alan Liotta

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

(POW/MIA Missing Personnel Affairs)