Remember your Unknown Vietnam Verterns.
Warrior ethos of "no soldier left behind," the United States goes to greater lengths than any other nation to recover, identify and inter its war dead.
The U.S. MILITARY HAS 4.3 MILLION DNA SAMPLES ON FILE
DNA testing became an identification tool for the U.S. military during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. By October 1992, all personnel entering the Army had to provide DNA specimens, and soon after all branches initiated specimen collections.
The military has acquired 4.3 million samples for its reference library, says James Canik, from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md. He says that since Sept. 11, 2001, the library has been accessed in 2,000 cases.
The lab's goal is "to ensure the United States would never again have to entomb the remains of an unknown American among the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery."
In 1998, using mitochondrial DNA technologies it pioneered, the lab identified the remains of the "Vietnam Unknown" as 1st Lt. Michael Blassie, an Air Force pilot from St. Louis.
In October 2003, the military established the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Its mission is "to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of our nation's previous conflicts."