US completes search for missing WW II airmen in Arunachal
New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) The US mission in Arunachal Pradesh to locate the remains of servicemen missing since World War II has been completed, authorities said on Tuesday.
A team from the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) team visited several locations in the state to determine if the reported sites can be definitively correlated to known crash sites involving missing US servicemen, an official release said.
The US team concentrated its efforts on sites where US aircraft are believed to have crashed in the Himalayas with still unaccounted-for servicemen.
During the mission, local residents gave the team human remains and osseous material recovered from the wreckage of a crashed aircraft.
At the site, the US DPAA found additional human remains believed to be associated with missing US service members. The government’s approval is awaited to send the remains to the US for identification.
Speaking on the mission, US Ambassador Richard Verma said: “The US is committed to making sure all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served our country come home. DPAA’s mission in India is a vital part of that commitment.”
Thanking the Indian government for its support, Mission commander Lt. Col Pritz said: “We want to thank the government of India, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Air Force for their invaluable assistance and cooperation in conducting this mission. Without their support, this mission would not have been successful.”
The team will corroborate the evidences collected with historical records and reports. Based on the finding, the team may visit for excavation in an attempt to recover the remains and return them to the DPAA’s laboratory for identification.
All the sites were located within the Indian northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, where the majority of losses occurred. The DPAA team trekked to sites ranging from 2,500 feet to 10,000 feet in altitude, over trails that took anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Last year, the DPAA successfully recovered remains from the same region. In April, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter received the remains from the Indian government which the DPAA is working to identify now.
During the last phase of WW II (1943-45), the US Air Force flew support mission to China and South East Asia against the Japanese army through the north-east of India.