Personnel Recovery Visit with Pacific Command
On March 13, the DPMO Director for Personnel Recovery conducted an oversight visit with the Personnel Recovery staff at U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii. At the core of their discussions was how all elements of the U.S. Government will play an important role when recovering personnel in a peacetime governmental detention or non-governmental detention scenarios, and under the leadership of the U.S. Chief of Mission in the specific country involved. Addressing these possible scenarios in advance are important not only to our military and civilian personnel deployed to or assigned in nations throughout the Pacific region, to include the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's investigation and recovery teams operating in remote areas of the Pacific region.
During March, researchers in the DPMO Moscow office reviewed files in Russia's Podolsk Archive files that included combat reports, combat orders, and other data from the Soviet Fighter Aviation Division (133rd FAD) and Regiments (16th FAR, 415th FAR, and 177th FAR) that operated in the Korean Theater of Operations during the period of 1951-1953. The files contained information on the circumstances of U.S. aircraft shoot downs. The Russians will digitize the documents and the Moscow office will also send summaries of the files to DPMO. Additionally, a researcher in the Moscow Office gained access to materials from the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), specifically from the Prison Department of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs, dating back to WWII and the early post-war period. To further increase mutual cooperation with Russia, the Moscow Office met with Dr. Kharitonov from the Saxony Center for Historical Documentation of Resistance and Repression in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Occupied Zone of the German Democratic Republic. Dr. Kharitonov briefed them on Russian and German cooperation on researching the whereabouts of missing German and Soviet soldiers. He expressed an interest in aerial reconnaissance photos of German POW and concentration camps which were taken by the Allies during WWII and intends to request assistance through the Russian Side of the USRJC in determining if these photos exist in US archives.
Proposed exhumation in Czech Republic
In March, DPMO received approval from the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in response to a request to exhume the grave believed to be that of an American Serviceman missing from WWII, who was buried as an unknown in the CWGC section of Olsany Cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic. DPMO WWII investigators' analysis of war-era records suggested that the possible identity of the British unknown is a missing American. After a joint U.S/British exhumation, the Accounting Community should be able to confirm the soldier's identity quickly.
Southeast Asia Case Coordination Conference
From Feb. 27 to March 2, analysts from DPMO's Southeast Asia Division, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), the Defense Intelligence Agency (Stony Beach), and Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory participated in a biannual coordination conference at Pearl Harbor, HI to review 303 cases of personnel loss, share research, and come to an analytic consensus as to what to do next on each case. The team identified recommended leads for each case during the five day conference. Through this coordination process specific leads for JPAC field teams were selected, and information to support site surveys and excavations was shared .