PDA

View Full Version : Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) - No one gets left behind...



flamethrowerguy
08-22-2008, 08:02 PM
...but sometimes it takes time.

http://www.az-web.de/fm/197/AZ_S3_6sp-repate_p7.jpg


from "Aachener Zeitung", August 22nd 2008

A US command is searching world wide for missing american soldiers. Presently one team is digging on an acre near Strass/Hurtgenforest. Repatriation is the objective.

Hurtgenforest. No human being vanishes without a trace. Not even if he lies concealed below an acre for more than 60 years. Death erases life and depending on the condition of the soil the human body decomposes in no time, even metal and leather decomposes. But there are people able to read even the smallest trace. One of them is Dr. Denise To: "Every scenario requires a different course of action, no death is like the other", she factually reports while she - a shovel in her hand- thinks about what the soil of Hurtgen forest will uncover to the forensic anthropologist in service of the US armed forces. After brief considering she says, "bone fragments". Those have to be hidden in the earth. And pieces of metal, aliminum. Eventually the missing person was a pilot, a young officer from Texas who was shot down on November 5th 1944 during the fierce fightings in the Hurtgenforest.
"Quadruplet flak, 20mm caliber" reports contemporary witness Franz-Josef Wienands who spectates at Denise To during her excavation 64 years after the plane was shot down. A salvo of an AA battery stationed in Bogheim turned the P38 "Lightning" into a ball of fire during the war winter 1944/45, crashing at the outskirts of Strass on a stony field. After that artillery shells plowed the field followed by 60 years of agricultural utilization.
"Only bone fragments of the pilot remain" the expert conjectures and marks the next sector of excavation. In the backgroung the Hurtgenforest mounts up. Green, peaceful, introspectively. A pastoral idyll slightly disturbed by US soldiers. They're scanning the field with metal detectors, sieving the excavated ground, sorting oxidized metal, screws and other tiny remains of the excavated High-tech fighter-bomber. The scenario looks like an archeological excavation. Every finding is documented meticulously, an accurate sketch made. As martial the death of the young man has been - the quest for his mortal remains is detailed work.

For the nine team members of the so-called "Joint-POW/MIA-command" (Jpac) this is daily routine. It's their task to find the numerous missing soldiers of the many american assignments of war, to recover them and to transfere them to the United States. In early August some members of the team were searching for missing soldiers in Vietnam, since August 11th they dig in Hurtgenforest. A second team found a G.I. in his foxhole just the day before yesterday near the village of Vossenack - holding his position for more than six decades. "He is missing but not forgotten" says civilist Denise Ho who internalized one of the military maxims: "We leave nobody behind". Because of that 18 Jpac-teams are on duty world wide. In Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, France, Belgium, Japan,...A global power fights on many battlefields. Or reworded out of military source: "We owe it to our heroes to bury them in native soil. They sacrificed themselves for the freedom we live in today." says Sergeant Jon Couturier from the US Marine Corps.
Couturier is the head of the team in Strass, a wirily fellow as strong as an ox. His main task is to bring back home the team healthy - and because in Hurtgenforest in 2008 the former enemy is now a friend, he has the time to muck in, shovel dirt, haul buckets from the one-feet deep pit to one of the several sieves. Like all others he waits for the first crucial finding, an indication of the pilot. "Sometimes it is kind of frustrating. You get the impression to haul the dirt from one spot to another."
Couturier is one of the leathernecks, fighting without regard on own losses. The duty in the recovery unit is no penalty to him but an honor, he volunteered. Eventually it's all about the honor of the fallen, the honor of the country. Backed-up by a department with a budget of 53 million US-Dollar plus finest connections to the highest government offices allowing them world wide excavations even in backyards and nature protection areas.

On the stubble field near Strass the anthropologist meanwhile marks recent metal findings in the pit, a toothed wheel comes to light, little flags arranged around it. To hopes to find the remains of the cockpit. She explains, they have been lucky to find the crash site this fast, hints by the population have been very good.
"We just had an old air photograph with the wreck on it." Sergeant Matthew Chlosta reports. An advance team interrogated contemporary witnesses and was able to localize the acre in question.
"We do what's possible to us!" says Chlosta, August 2008 just meant Hurtgenforest. With about 78000 missing american soldiers there is work for decades left for JPAC, about 100 MIA's are recovered per year and shipped to the USA. About 40000 G.I.s are considered "MIA" since WW2 in Europe, 8100 in Korea, 1760 in Vietnam, 120 from the Cold War era and one from the Gulf war.

In Strass nothing but pieces of debris have been found so far. No reason to surrender, Denise To is convinced. No human being vanishes without a trace. "We have to dig deeper" she says and grabs her shovel.

navyson
08-22-2008, 08:52 PM
I saw a picture in the other section of desecrated german graves somewhere on the old eastern front. Do you know if Germany has something like this in place to recover their war dead. Althougth those in particular aren't necessarily missing.
Nice article by the way. I think it's an honorable thing they're doing. I'd rather some of my tax money go for this than a lot of other junk it's going for.

flamethrowerguy
08-22-2008, 08:59 PM
I saw a picture in the other section of desecrated german graves somewhere on the old eastern front. Do you know if Germany has something like this in place to recover their war dead. Althougth those in particular aren't necessarily missing.
Nice article by the way. I think it's an honorable thing they're doing. I'd rather some of my tax money go for this than a lot of other junk it's going for.

It was me who uploaded the photo of the desecrated german graves near Pitomnik airfield in the Stalingrad area. The german counterpart of the JPAC would be the "Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V."
http://www.volksbund.de/

navyson
08-22-2008, 09:17 PM
It was me who uploaded the photo of the desecrated german graves near Pitomnik airfield in the Stalingrad area. The german counterpart of the JPAC would be the "Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V."
http://www.volksbund.de/

So when those kind of graveyards are found do they go get the remains of the soldiers? Are relations good enough with those countries to do that? It seems just in the last several years that i've heard of Vietnam helping with finding and returning remains.

flamethrowerguy
08-23-2008, 04:31 AM
So when those kind of graveyards are found do they go get the remains of the soldiers? Are relations good enough with those countries to do that? It seems just in the last several years that i've heard of Vietnam helping with finding and returning remains.

It's kind of the same like with JPAC, they systematically search battlegrounds, follow hints by the population etc. Most german MIA's are suspected in the former USSR and other Eastern Bloc countries of course so that recovery of the missing soldiers are possible since the end of the cold war.
The connections of the Volksbund are surely not that good like these of JPAC, the german Volksbund is a pure civilian organisation, supported by bounties mostly. Another quote from JPAC member Sergeant Matthew Chlosta is: "As far as I know no other Army in the world does something like JPAC. Americans leave no one behind. This is our oath."

pdf27
08-23-2008, 06:24 AM
Another quote from JPAC member Sergeant Matthew Chlosta is: "As far as I know no other Army in the world does something like JPAC. Americans leave no one behind. This is our oath."
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) goes to similar lengths to identify bodies, etc. when gravesites are identified, but doesn't go out actively searching for remains.

flamethrowerguy
08-27-2008, 06:53 PM
An american 500kg-bomb was today found and disarmed on the acre near the village of Straß/Hurtgenforest where the american JPAC team searches for the remains of the pilot of the shot-down P38 "Lightning", a lieutenant from Texas. It's obvious to the members of the german explosive ordnance disposal team that the bomb belongs to this very plane. All homes in a radius of 200 meters had to be evacuated. It seems to be a miracle that the bomb didn't detonate neither during the crash of the plane not during plowing the acre in the decades after the war. Still somewhere in the ground MG ammo and the remains of the pilot are resting. He would be the fourth american soldier salvaged from Hurtgenforest within the last three years.
http://www.an-online.de/fm/197/AN_D_bombe-web.jpg

navyson
08-27-2008, 07:01 PM
I bet their hearts dropped to their stomachs when they first saw what they were uncovering. Is it common to find such things still?:shock:

flamethrowerguy
08-27-2008, 07:12 PM
I bet their hearts dropped to their stomachs when they first saw what they were uncovering. Is it common to find such things still?:shock:

Actually yes, there are several every year in Aachen and surroundings (Hurtgenforest, Eifel, Ardennes and the former Rur-front area). It is still a commitment for everybody who wants to build a house etc. to let the ground checked before.

flamethrowerguy
08-30-2008, 09:32 AM
Just as it semi-fits the topic and it's current:

ADF to visit 'WWII skeleton' hanging on Kokoda Track
By PNG correspondent Steve Marshall

Posted August 28, 2008 19:14:00
Updated August 28, 2008 19:34:00


Hikers discovered the object hanging from the canopy halfway along the track. (No-Roads trekking company)

Related Story: Supposed WWII skeleton found dangling above Kokoda Track The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is preparing to visit the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea to confirm a possible discovery of the body of a World War II airman found hanging above the track.

A group of Melbourne trekkers say they discovered what they suspect is a moss-covered body hanging in a harness from the jungle canopy.

An ADF spokesman says the location of the find is near a flight path commonly used by allied aircraft during WWII and that a number of aircraft were reported as missing in this area.

The ADF and the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby are working to gather more information and are making plans to visit the site to confirm the find.

There are also reports of unexploded ordnance in the area and trekkers are being asked to stay on the track and not interfere with the site.

Melbourne firefighter and part-time trekking guide David Collins says he initially did not think much of it when his clients said they had spotted something hanging in the canopy, until closer inspection.

Photos taken by Mr Collins show an object that appears to be a human body hanging about 15 metres above the ground.

The object was found about halfway along the Kokoda Track near Myola village, a four-day walk from the Port Moresby end of the path.

According to track historians like Charlie Lynn, there was as much action above the track in 1942 as there was on it during the war.

Recently the Australian and PNG governments agreed to protect the Kokoda Track with a view to making it world heritage-listed.

The agreement virtually scuppered plans for a controversial new copper mine near the southern end of the path.

Mr Lynn says possible finds such as this justify protecting the track.

navyson
08-30-2008, 10:13 AM
You would think that the body and clothing would have deteriorated enough to fall to the ground after all these years. It'll be interesting to see what they find out.

flamethrowerguy
09-13-2008, 05:18 PM
This week the team of JPAC aborts the search for the missing pilot. Although parts of the plane as well as two 500kg-bombs were exposed, only "minimal vestiges" of the pilot were found. The JPAC team assumes that the mortal remains were salvaged back in 1944 and buried elsewhere, probably as an unknown soldier.

navyson
09-14-2008, 08:11 AM
Hi flame! Say, have you seen or heard anymore on the skeleton hanging from a tree on the kokoda trail?

flamethrowerguy
09-14-2008, 08:14 AM
Hi flame! Say, have you seen or heard anymore on the skeleton hanging from a tree on the kokoda trail?

No, unfortunately not. Our australian members should rather be able to get some info on that issue.

pdf27
09-14-2008, 08:41 AM
Sep 4, 2008

CANBERRA (AFP) — The suspected remains of a World War II-era airman found dangling in trees in the jungle of Papua New Guinea have turned out to be just a moss-covered branch, the Australian military revealed Friday.

Hikers on the famed Kokoda Trail, site of a brutal 1942 battle between Japanese and Australian troops, reported they had discovered what appeared to be the suspended skeleton of a flyer tangled in parachute cords two weeks ago.

But the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said it had sent staff from Canberra's embassy in Port Moresby to inspect the remote site, only to discover that the suspected human skeleton was simply a tree limb tangled in vines.

"No remains were located," the ADF said in a statement received here Friday.

"While the location, near Kagi, is below a flight path that was commonly used by Allied aircraft during WWII sorties, the find has been confirmed by ADF staff as a moss-covered branch.

"It appears the branch has broken off the main tree and fallen across some vines, which from the ground, could have been confused with the body of an airman," the statement said.

News that the remains of a flyer had been discovered more than 65 years after his death in the heat of the World War II battle for the Pacific had caused a sensation.

"I couldn't make it out at first. It wasn't until the wind blew that you could really see it is in a harness," guide David Collins, who was leading the group of Australian hikers who spotted the tree-bound mass, said last week.

"There are goggles and it appears to be caught up in cables, so presumably it is an airman," he said.

The ADF immediately dispatched a team to check whether the find was actually a body and, if so, to determine the airman's nationality as Australian, US and Japanese planes overflew the area during the war.

The jungle in the area is extremely dense and hikers are warned not to stray off the Kokoda Trail as unexploded ordnance remains strewn in the area more than half a century after fighting ceased.

Some 600 Australian soldiers died in battle near the extremely rugged Kokoda Trail, which was seen by the Allies as a crucial point at which to halt the Japanese military's southern advance through the Pacific towards Australia.
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5icN4C1dsxB80YL8oXNrM2roDBs1g

Google News (http://news.google.com/news?rls=en&oe=utf-8&um=1&tab=wn&nolr=1&hl=en&q=kokoda+skeleton&btnG=Search+News)is your friend ;)

navyson
09-14-2008, 08:46 AM
Thanks pdf27, I was about to go looking for info but you posted in the meantime!:)

flamethrowerguy
09-14-2008, 08:48 AM
LMAO, what a surprising turn of events! :lol:

navyson
09-14-2008, 08:53 AM
LMAO, what a surprising turn of events! :lol:
Too bad it was a wild goose chase, that would have made for a much better story if it hadn't turned out to be a fallen branch.:neutral:

Carl Schwamberger
09-14-2008, 09:17 AM
When I served on Okinawa 1983-1985 there was a full time team of ordinance, forensics, and archeological experts investigating the frequent discovery of war remnants. The south end of the island is heavily urbanized, and that is where the battle also was fought. It seemd nearly impossible to dig a foundation for a new building without turning up a explosive or a skeleton.

flamethrowerguy
04-21-2010, 12:33 PM
Last week another G.I. of 28th Infantry Division was found in Hurtgenforest near the village of Schmidt which was fiercely fought in late 1944. Employees of an energy provider company recovered the mortal remains of the G.I. during laying cables. The soldier probably died of a close-by impact of an artillery shell since a lot of shell splinters could be found around the body. Unfortunately the dog tag was missing but the man's watch, a fountain pen, a tooth brush, a razor and some infantry ammo was salvaged, all items were identified as US made.
The mortal remains are now committed to US authorities and will be shipped to Hawaii for further attempts of identification.

http://www.az-web.de/fm/197/AZ_D_3sp_toterami.jpg
photo by www.az-web.de

The G.I.'s watch stopped at 6:30.

Rising Sun*
04-22-2010, 09:51 AM
The G.I.'s watch stopped at 6:30.

That's something that has always seemed unreliable to me so far as establishing the time of death in various incidents, beloved though it is of the endless parade of crime / forensic shows on TV.

A blast violent enough to shatter a body might also move the hands on a watch.

Or a watch might run out of wound spring, or movement wind up, or battery power some time later.

flamethrowerguy
04-22-2010, 10:12 AM
That's something that has always seemed unreliable to me so far as establishing the time of death in various incidents, beloved though it is of the endless parade of crime / forensic shows on TV.

A blast violent enough to shatter a body might also move the hands on a watch.

Or a watch might run out of wound spring, or movement wind up, or battery power some time later.

My thoughts exactly, just quoted the newspaper.

Rising Sun*
04-22-2010, 10:22 AM
I've missed this thread until now.

Ain't it marvellous how time changes attitudes?

If these two poor bastards had been found at the time not only would they not have got a State funeral, they would have been buried very quietly to avoid becoming a focus for anti-war protesters or just because the Government didn't want to upset the increasingly hostile public by drawing attention to some more of the the sorry human consequences of Australia's cunning plan to make Vietnam the mire into which to draw America so that it got locked into South East Asia and Australia's defence from the yellow hordes poised to make the Domino Theory a reality.


State funeral for Vietnam War airman


Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 7:17am AEST
Updated Tue Sep 8, 2009 9:16am AEST

Hundreds of mourners have attended a State Funeral in Adelaide for Vietnam War pilot Michael Herbert.

The airman failed to return from a routine night bombing mission over southern Vietnam in 1970, at a time when he had only two months remaining on his tour of duty.

Their remains and the bomber's wreckage were found in July in dense jungle.

The funeral at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide was followed by a procession through Victoria Square in the city and a F-111 fly past.

Flying Officer Herbert's body was returned to Australia recently, along with that of Pilot Officer Robert Carver.

Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Michael Warby says finding them was a significant achievement.

"We may never know what caused the aircraft to crash unfortunately, but the most important thing is that we've recovered the remains of Robert and Michael."

Shane Herbert was 11 when his brother was lost and delivered a eulogy at the funeral service.

"The experience of Michael's loss and not knowing for 39 years has shaped the character and the spirit of my family," he said.

"I pray that we move to a more open compassionate and peaceful heart space for us all."

Closure

John Bird was in the same squadron as both pilots and says he and his comrades are glad to have the closure of a funeral service despite it being many years later.

"They were both wonderful young men, they'll always be young men to us and it's just sad it took so long for us to find them but now we have," he said.

"Everyone's been just been wonderful, the Vietnamese Government, the Air Force has been superb and everyone involved has just been absolutely wonderful."

A friend from Officer Herbert's squadron, Alan Curr, says he never thought a funeral would happen.

"The fact that we're back here today to bury Herbie is an outstanding achievement and result for everybody," he said.

A service was held for Flight Officer Carver in Queensland last week.

forager
04-28-2010, 07:16 AM
Friends of mine on another board describe recovering remains from an aircraft months after the crash.
It was a light FAC stuck in a treetop.

One guy's electric watch was still running.