DPAA Accounts for 183 Missing Service Members in Fiscal Year 2017

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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day, first established in 1979 through a proclamation from President Jimmy Carter, is an observance to honor and recognize the sacrifices of those Americans who have been prisoners of war and to remind the Nation of those who are still missing in action. Today, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is conducting worldwide operations to provide the fullest possible accounting for those classified as still missing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bruch / Released)

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Members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participate in the full honors service for Army Air Forces 1st. Lt. Francis Pitonyak at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Sept. 22, 2017. Pitonyak, a member of the 36th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron during WWII, went missing in October 1943 during deteriorating weather conditions and lost visibility near Port Moresby, Territory of Papua. His remains were identified by a DPAA recovery team in July 2016 from dental remains recovered from a crash site in Papua New Guinea. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

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Marines from the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (8th and I); "The President's Own" United States Marine Band; and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon participate in the full honors funeral of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Walter G. Critchley in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Oct. 18, 2017. In November 1943, Critchley was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. A battle lasted several days in which approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 wounded. Critchley died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Initially, after the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. Service Members were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island (but Critchley’s remains were not recovered). On Feb. 10, 1949, a military review board declared Critchley’s remains non-recoverable. In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) that they had discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the original battle. The remains were then turned over to DPAA in July 2015 and through laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence, Critchley’s remains were identified. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

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U.S. service members with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) honor the fallen during a disinterment ceremony Aug. 28, 2017, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. The remains disinterred will be transferred to the DPAA laboratory for identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mikaley Kline / Released)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) accounted for 183 formerly missing persons from past conflicts. Also, the agency individually identified the remains of 18 additional personnel, who were previously accounted for as part of group burials, reaching another milestone of 201 total identifications for the fiscal year. 

“These numbers are an unprecedented achievement in the accounting mission's history. With more than 600 military and civilian personnel stationed and operating around the world, DPAA is staunchly committed to researching, investigating, recovering, and identifying U.S. personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. It's through this staunch commitment that we endeavor to bring solace to those who still wait for the fullest possible accounting of their loved ones,” said DPAA Director Kelly McKeague.

A breakdown by conflict of those whose remains were identified shows that 143 were from World War II, 42 from the Korean War, and 16 from the Vietnam War. Geographically, 172 were from the Asia-Pacific region, and 29 were repatriated from the European-Mediterranean region.

In FY 2016, DPAA made 164 identifications. McKeague attributed the substantial increase in FY 2017 to talented and dedicated subject matter experts; advanced scientific methods; and a vigorous operations pace for field activities and disinterments.

“We are also extremely grateful to each of the countries in which we operate, the combatant commands, military Service Casualty Offices, as well as to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory; the teams from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries; and our partnerships with non-governmental organizations. Their collaboration with, and support to, DPAA have been outstanding," said McKeague.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted-for while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, or find us on Facebook or Twitter at @DODPAA.