Ef­fort helps bring troops back home

Re­searchers push­ing to ID re­mains of 83,000 ser­vice mem­bers

Yuma Sun - - OPINION - Un­signed edi­to­ri­als rep­re­sent the view­point of this news­pa­per rather than an in­di­vid­ual. Col­umns and let­ters to the ed­i­tor rep­re­sent the view­points of the per­sons writ­ing them and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the views of the Yuma Sun.

Mem­bers of our armed forces know that when they are called to duty, they put ev­ery­thing on the line — in­clud­ing their own lives — to pro­tect and de­fend our na­tion.

When some­one chooses to serve in the mil­i­tary, there are count­less risks. One knows that there is a risk of in­jury, of phys­i­cal or men­tal trauma, and that one might not make it home again. For any fam­ily, that can be dev­as­tat­ing. But for some, the sit­u­a­tion is worse when their loved one’s body doesn’t make it home.

A team of sci­en­tists and ex­perts is work­ing to change that, and in turn give those fam­i­lies clo­sure. The team is on a mis­sion to iden­tify the re­mains of uniden­ti­fied ser­vice mem­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Associated Press, there are 83,000 uniden­ti­fied ser­vice mem­bers killed in World War II and more re­cent wars. Of those, of­fi­cials be­lief that nearly half can be iden­ti­fied and re­turned to fam­i­lies.

That’s a stag­ger­ing num­ber, and it’s not an easy process. The AP notes that the team is us­ing science, his­tory and in­tu­ition in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process. When they suc­ceed, the team gives fam­i­lies in­for­ma­tion about what hap­pened — how the per­son died, and how the team “un­rav­eled the mys­tery” lead­ing up to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the AP, “the iden­ti­fi­ca­tions climbed from 59 in 2013 to 183 last year and at least 200 and pos­si­bly a few more this year.”

That is great news for fam­i­lies and rel­a­tives. Each per­son iden­ti­fied is a per­son who can be re­turned to their fam­i­lies, giv­ing those fam­i­lies clo­sure. These ser­vice mem­bers gave the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for their coun­try. Re­turn­ing them home for burial is the least our na­tion can do.

It’s a tremen­dous ef­fort, but it’s one worth do­ing. Hope­fully, with the added fo­cus of this team, more fam­i­lies get the clo­sure they de­serve, and a chance to truly say good­bye.

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