US to Dig in India For Missing WW II Heroes

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The United States will dig the Indian sub continent for their missing World War II heroes. As part of the drive, the Department of Defense of the US has tied up with Gandhinagar-based National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU). Accordingly, the US Department of Defense will search for the remains of about 400 personnel who fought in India during World War II.


The Defence Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) under the DOD of the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NFSU and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) on May 27 through a video-conference meeting

With the treaty, a team from DPAA will visit India to trace, recover and identify the remains of the US Army and US Air Force personnel who went “missing in action during the penultimate years of World War II.  The scientists from the NFSU will help the DPAA to recover and identify the missing personnel.


Defence Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency is an agency under the Department of Defence of the United States. Formed in 2015, the main task of the agency is to trace the remains of any US army personnel who went Missing In Action or are Prisoners of War in past conflicts of World War II, Cold War, Korean War Vietnam War and Iraq. The DPAA is for tracing more than 81,800 of their missing personnel.

The Agency always ties up with host countries. They also formulate a time span to conduct search operations depending on the topography, terrain challenges and weather. As a first step, the agency sends a research and investigation team to examine records and archives of the host country. This is for getting leads on the last whereabouts of the missing people. Based on the research and findings, anthropology and forensic Science experts conduct on-site operations looking for aircraft wreckage remains or cemetery records of local areas. Once the lead is confirmed, the sites are excavated and any human remains found are then sent to US-based laboratories for tests.


It is learned that eight such exercises of DPAA or similar agencies under DOD will be held in northeast Indian states. Since 2008, The US held recovery missions in India in Arunachal Pradesh Assam Nagaland and Tripura. The DPAA and the Anthropological Survey of India in 2006 found some evidence of remains of US Army personnel. The DPAA has come across six personnel of the US military in the country. It is estimated that about 306 US military personnel died in India while fighting. However, the DPAA believes the number could be above 400.


The team of forensic experts including students from NFSU will explore North Eastern states of India. They will do this along with DPAA Team and Anthropological Survey of India.

DPAA mission project manager at NSU Dr Gargi Jani was quoted as saying that they would scientifically and logistically assist the DPAA in their mission. Stating that it was an honour to collaborate with DPAA, she said that the joint effort would leverage the efforts in India to provide with fullest possible accounting to families of the missing personal.

NFSU is one of India’s premier forensic institutes. In the institute, forensic anthropology is integrated with forensic sciences and forensic odontology. The institute also boasts of a forensic odontology laboratory along with other equipment such as 3D scanners and printers. They offer services such as computer forensics, Suspect detection system, narco analysis, polygraph examination, BEOSP, integrated ballistics identification system, audio-video tape authentication system, and automated fingerprint identification system and accredited mobile investigation.

NFSU Vice-Chancellor Dr JM Vyas was quoted as saying that the joint partnership will help in the scientific exchange in areas of forensic anthropology and odontology. It will also help to develop best practices for human identification, he pointed out. He also noted that NFSU always took a lead to promote forensics in a criminal investigation.


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