Next week we anticipate a decision from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command on their plans for the recovery of the Coast Guard crew missing in Greenland since WWII. They’re charged with the heavy task of bringing home all missing military personnel from past conflicts.
“The highest priority of the organization is the return of any living Americans that remain prisoners of war,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Leeanna Taylor, a JPAC spokesperson in Oahu, Hawaii. “To date, the U.S. Government has not found any evidence that there are still American POWs in captivity.”
They maintain roughly 14,000 active case files, a figure that grows daily with tens of thousands more archived at the National Records Center waiting to be investigated. With only 400 personnel attached to JPAC it’s a daunting task—but doable.
JPAC has the largest forensics anthropological laboratory and the largest staff of forensic anthropologists and odontologists under one roof anywhere in the world. So they have the tools to do it, it just takes time.
If you’ve been following the search for our missing Coast Guard crew you understand this. Records must be examined, sites need to be investigated, logistics have to be planned. A single recovery takes a massive effort. Tens of thousands of recoveries is a Herculean job.
In the end it’s all worth it. These heroes have families that have waited decades for this closure.
“It’s so rewarding when you go and find something and the family can close that chapter of their life,” said Taylor. “They’re very happy when we do. They’re not sad, not grieving anymore. They’re just grateful their government does this for them.”
For the families of Lt. John Pritchard and Petty Officer Benjamin Bottoms that closure may happen very soon because of the dedicated people at JPAC. On behalf of the Coast Guard family, thank you!