I recently wrote a story about how some military service members remains were disposed of less than respectfully in a landfill in Dover, Delaware. Even though the remains were small fragments in most cases, it was still something that never should have happened out of respect to someone who has paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Well now I am pleased to bring you good news as far as identifying deceased service member’s remains are concerned; the government has just awarded a contract to the very sophisticated and respected Parabon NanoLabs to help improve the military’s remains identification program.
The incidents I was referring to took place at the military’s mortuary headquarters at Dover AFB between 2003 and 2008 and were first exposed and admitted to by the defense department in 2011. The story seemed to gain added attention at the end of last year and that is when we first caught wind of it and subsequently wrote an article on it. It was said that the partial remains of some 274 servicemen were disposed of in a landfill because they were hard to identify and the amount of remains was starting to pile up. There is no excuse that is ever acceptable when it comes to respectfully treating a deceased service members remains.
Parabon NanoLabs is a significant upgrade in this area and if its reputation is true it should be the type of company that will be able to make sure almost every fragment is properly identified and matched with the deceased service member it came from. The new contract was awarded to Parabon NanoLabs by the U.S. Army Research Office and the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency.
The reason it is significant that Parabon NanoLabs came on board is because of the advances in DNA phenotyping capabilities that the company is pioneering. It is especially significant in the area of identifying bodies and fragments of remains from wars that took place many years ago; each year it seems that remains are discovered of service member’s bodies from places such as Vietnam, Korea and even some WWI and WWII battlegrounds. The remains of these men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice deserve the same respect as those who have perished in more recent conflicts and that is where Parabon’s ‘Snapshot’ DNA phenotyping capabilities become very important.
How does ‘Snapshot’ testing help identify remains more accurately? Well one of the problems with identifying older remains is that they are often attempted to be identified by using the DNA of living relatives but this can be difficult and inaccurate as the kinship distances increase. Parabon’s DNA phenotyping capabilities are very advanced in this area and currently have the ability to fairly accurately predict appearance and ancestry from DNA evidence that is within six degrees of a person’s relations; in other words, what would be termed second cousins once removed. This significantly helps Parabon’s process in identifying older remains especially and they are being asked to extend their capabilities for accurate analysis out even further. This is something that simply cannot be done accurately when using traditional DNA testing methods to try and identify genetically distant remains.
By bringing Parabon on board, AFDIL feels it is taking a significant step forward in being prepared to try and identify the remains of any that are found of the some 83,000 service personnel who still today remain missing from the conflicts that America has fought in over the years. We owe it to those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to continue making improvements in this area.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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