Today, I had the privilege of attending another arrival ceremony hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hangar 35 of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Six flag-draped transfer cases containing five unidentified military members from World War II, and one from the Vietnam War, were all carried down the ramp of a C-17 to waiting buses with full military honors. They were then transported to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory where the identification process will begin. The World War II remains were recovered from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Republic of Vanuatu, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, while the Vietnam War loss was recovered from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which demonstrates what a global effort the recovery process is.
According to their website, JPAC’s mission “is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts.” So far, since 2003, more than 608 Americans have been identified by JPAC, and this past August, JPAC broke ground on a new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facility that will help them further progress in their mission. Though many Department of Defense organizations are facing budget cuts, JPAC has actually been issued a mandate by Congress to increase their identifications to 200 a year by 2015.
Photography Note: Last year, I attended a brief lab tour before the somber ceremony began, during which I took some of my favorite photographs of the entire year. This time around, I had the challenge of balancing a more difficult lighting situation with also trying to not take the same photos as last time. Though I am posting all black and white images, I have a color gallery available for viewing here.
Again, please check out the color versions of these images in the gallery!
My previous JPAC-related coverage:
- JPAC Arrival Ceremony For America’s Heroes
- JPAC – National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony
- JPAC Forensic Science Academy
- JPAC Groundbreaking Ceremony 08/30/11
- A Bronze Star For Staff Sgt. Ross