Kolkata, May 31 (IANS) Over 400 US World War II servicemen are estimated to be missing in India’s northeast where recent field activities have yielded “evidence possibly associated with unaccounted-for personnel”, a US Defense Department official said here on Wednesday.
“We estimate there are 425 servicemen still missing in northeast India, as per records from Second World War. We were flying missions from India, supporting our efforts in China and Myanmar and so there were crash sites that incurred accidents either because of weather or malfunctions or even enemy action and airplanes crashed and were lost,” said Lt. Col Kevin Pritz of the Department of Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA), adding those missing were air servicemen.
According to Pritz, there have been six identifications since 2013 and the remains have been returned to their families.
Participating in a talk and interactive session on “The Anatomy of a Dig: Forensic Science and Anthropology”, Pritz and forensic anthropologist Meghan-Tomasita Cosgriff from DPAA discussed how the various facets of forensic science and anthropology play a vital role in assisting the agency in recovering remains of missing US soldiers.
The DPAA conducted field activities in Arunachal Pradesh from November 1-December 14, 2016, in search of US World War II unaccounted for personnel.
The team recovered evidence that was subsequently examined by a Joint Forensic Review Committee comprising both DPAA and Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) members.
On December 7, 2016, the committee determined that the evidence was possibly correlated to US WWII service members unaccounted for from that region, and recommended the remains and material evidenceAbe transported to a DPAA laboratory for further analysis.
In June, 2017, DPAA personnel will escort the evidence from Kolkata to a laboratory in Honolulu for analysis.
This activity marked the seventh mission relating to U.S. unaccounted for personnel conducted in India.
Past missions include: three recovery missions during 2008 and 2009 in Arunachal Pradesh, one investigation in Tripura in 2013, one investigation in Assam and Nagaland in 2014, one recovery in Arunachal Pradesh in 2015, and one investigation in Arunachal Pradesh 2016.
The Indian government has extended its full support to all these humanitarian missions.