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JPAC Arrival Ceremony

The Joint POW / MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) invited us to attend an Arrival Ceremony on December 9th and it was such an honor to be included.  The ceremony welcomes home the remains of American service men, as yet unidentified, with full military honors.


JPAC Teams travel around the globe to complete their mission, stated as "to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts."  This includes investigation, recovery, identification and finally, notifying the next of kin. 

When we arrived, we were allowed to enter the C-17 before the ceremony started.  There, soldiers representing all branches of the military were at attention next to the flag draped transfer cases, 6 in all.  Five cases represent Americans lost in World War II, and the sixth was from the Vietnam War.

The service began with the national anthem and an honor guard in a huge hanger.  Towards the end of the hanger were a pair of buses waiting to transport the remains to the Central Identification Lab for forensic analysis. 

It was eerily quiet as the remains were carefully moved from the C-17 to the waiting buses.  The only sounds were the footsteps echoing in the hanger and the photo journalists shutters clicking. 

 For me, I felt mixed emotions, it was simultaneously somber and uplifting.  Somber because I'm reminded of the sacrifice these soldiers made for our country, and uplifting because they are on the road to identification and closure for their families. 

 JPAC was established in 2003 and has identified over 608 American personnel since it was established.  On average, the lab identifies a MIA about every 4 days and since the 70's the original U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory accounted for over 1770 Americans.

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