The Identification of U.S. Military Personnel Following the Battle of Tarawa

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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is a United States Department of Defense agency whose mission is to search for, recover, and identify U.S. personnel missing from past military conflicts. As part of these efforts, the DPAA established a commingled human remains (CHR) project dedicated to casualty resolution of Battle of Tarawa losses. The Battle of Tarawa occurred over three days during World War II, and resulted in over 6000 U.S., Japanese, and Korean casualties on a three-square mile Pacific Island. The initial need to quickly bury the deceased and post-war consolidation efforts led to the commingling, the disassociation of remains and the loss of original burial information, resulting in a difficulty of identifying casualties. The development of modern forensic processes, such as Next Generation Sequencing DNA testing and chest radiograph comparison, have allowed for the identification of previously unknown U.S. individuals from the battle. Since the advent of the CHR Project in 2016, to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa in November 2018, the DPAA has been able to account for 83 of the more than 400 missing U.S. military personnel. This presentation will provide an overview of the resolution of commingled human remains within the Tarawa CHR Project and how previously unaccountedfor U.S. military personnel are being identified today.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventSummer British Association of Human Identification (BAHID) - Moreton-in-Marsh , United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jul 20197 Jul 2019


ConferenceSummer British Association of Human Identification (BAHID)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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