Operation Missing Man
Dear MIA Family Member,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another,” John 15:13. And we can pay no greater respect to those men and women who made that ultimate sacrifice in service to their country than to see that they are found, identified, and returned to American soil.
Rolling Thunder is a national organization dedicated to educating the public on all aspects of POW-MIA issues, and to assist wherever possible in the recovery and identification of POW and MIA personnel. Operation Missing Man in particular is an ongoing Rolling Thunder project to coordinate all resources possible to identify remains that have been recovered but not yet identified.
Most of you already know many details about the MIA recovery process. In short, when new remains are found that are believed to belong to MIA personnel, they are sent to the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL) in Hawaii. There they use many methods including personal items found at the site (dog tags, etc.), dental records, action reports, and finally DNA to make positive identifications. You can learn more about JPAC at http://www.jpac.pacom.mil.
You might wonder why they can’t instantly identify recovered remains from a DNA sample like forensic scientists do on TV. To do this they would need a pre-existing sample of DNA from all the missing service members to be identified, and DNA samples were not routinely collected from our service men and women until the Gulf War.
This is where you, a family member of an MIA, can help. There are currently a number of recovered personnel awaiting identification, and by contributing DNA you might help identify some of them. While nothing is guaranteed and we do not want to raise false hopes, it is possible that your DNA might either positively identify your own missing relative, or by process of elimination help identify someone else’s relative.
Am I an eligible donor of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)?
The type of DNA used to identify remains is inherited only from the mother. This means that each person’s mother, as well as brothers, sisters, sister’s children and many other relatives share the same strain of mtDNA. This is useful because it means that mtDNA from relatives (sometimes quite distant ones) can be directly linked to mtDNA from unidentified remains. The downside is that children of a missing male cannot provide an mtDNA reference sample. The gender of the missing person and the donor are irrelevant. In a family tree linking the donor to the missing person, every intermediate person connecting the donor to the missing person must be a female.
This chart illustrates possible maternal donors:
We hope you can help
You may be able to help identify America’s missing heroes. If you are a family member of an individual who is Missing in Action, JPAC CIL may be able to use a sample of your DNA to help them with the identification process.
Rolling Thunder members will be happy to assist you in any way we can, or you can contact the appropriate Service Casualty Office directly. Simply tell them you wish to contribute to the Family Reference Samples (FRS) project.
Service Casualty Offices serve family members. Each Military Department maintains their own service casualty office, and the Department of State does the same for civilians. The officials in these offices serve as the primary liaison for families concerning personnel recovery and accounting. Full-time civilians who have worked this issue for many years and are experienced and knowledgeable staff these offices to answer your questions. Military officials also assist and help explain the methods used to account for missing loved ones. Each office dedicates for family use the following addresses and telephone numbers:
Department of the Army
U.S. Marine Corps
Department of the Navy
Department of the Air Force
Department of State
We Respect and Assure Your Privacy
The intent of our mission is to bring home the service members who have fought so bravely for their Country and families and made the ultimate sacrifice. These service members deserve to be reunited with their families, and their families deserve closure. Rest assured that if you contact us or provide any information to us, we will respect your privacy. We will use the information that you provide you to us only for the purposes of assisting with remains identification and will not use it for any other purpose. We will not release your information to other government agencies or any other organizations.
If you have any questions or would like us to assist you in any way, please feel free to call on us. Together we can work to bring every man home.
Rolling Thunder Oklahoma Chapter 1 President
Chairman, Operation Missing Man Committee
If you wish to download a copy of this information and pass it around you may do so here: Operation Missing Man (requires Adobe reader to view)