Accounting for 88,000 service members still missing from past wars

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The Families of more than 88,000 fallen troops continue to suppress the “what if” thoughts in the backs of their minds as they await news of what happened to their loved ones who were taken prisoner of war or were listed as missing in action since World War I. The vast majority are World War II veterans, but about 1,200 still are unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. ...

The people who work to find fallen warriors and return them to their families are part of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

About 75 percent of the people who work there are in the military, and though the services are struggling to fill some job slots because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon still is committed to staffing the command’s mission as best as it can, said Army Maj. Brian DeSantis, JPAC public affairs officer.

The command’s military personnel have a wide variety of jobs that are needed in-theater, including military intelligence specialists, engineers, quartermaster specialists, explosive ordnance disposal, infantrymen, medics, communications specialists and mortuary affairs specialists, DeSantis said.

Occasionally, recovery missions require medics or other personnel with jobs that are top priority in-theater to be brought in for a few months because they cannot be spared to join the command full-time, DeSantis said. But the command’s allotment of personnel has not changed since the wars began.

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