An Iowa native is part of a special military team that’s mission is to identify and bring home the remains of U.S. soldiers from past wars. Lieutenant Colonel Mark Brown, who is originally from Le Mars, travels all over the world as the public information officer for the “Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command.” Brown returned to Iowa this past weekend for national POW-MIA recognition day ceremonies. He says their job is to try and solve some of the mysteries surrounding the lost of U.S. soldiers. He says the remain unaccounted for sometimes 35 to 60 years and he says they’re trying to identify their remains and return them to their loved ones.
Brown says finding the remains of a soldier involves tracking the available clues. He says a lot of time they can study past records to see where an airplane went down, or a maneuver took place. Other times he says they can go into a country and the natives will recall seeing an airplane go down and they follow the directions and find the plane. Brown says other cases take more detailed detective work. He says it all starts with investigating a scene to see if they should dig there in the first place. He says they have archeologists on their staff that go out and supervise all the excavations. He says the archeologists have an ability to determine which way to dig and how deep.
Brown says there are still some 88-thousand soldiers that’re unaccounted for from the U.S. He says there’s 78-thousand from World War Two, 81-hundred from Korea, 18-hundred from Vietnam and 120 from the Cold War. Brown says they are able to identify about two soldiers per month. He says, “Anytime we can bring ’em back identify ’em and return ’em to their loved ones for burial with honor on American soil — it’s just beyond anything you could expect. Family members get closure for the first time in 35 to 60 years.”
Brown says they’re seeking the help of family and friends to help with the identification process. He says they have about 12-hundred sets of remains that they can’t identify with dental records, or artifacts like dog tags or a wallet. He says they don’t have D-N-A samples and are asking anyone with family members that’re missing to contact him. He says getting additional D-N-A samples might help them identify some of the remains. Brown says you should contact his office if you have a missing military relative. He says you can go to their website at www.japac.pacom.mil, or call him directly at 808-448-1934. J-PAC headquarters is located at the Hickam Air Force base in Hawaii. Brown is a graduate of Iowa State University.