Remains of unknown servicemen disinterred

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Apr 20 2012 01:39:16 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 20 2012 06:30:00 PM HST

A long awaited homecoming could take place for two fallen servicemen in just a matter of months. The remains of these men have been unidentified for decades. Today, the first step to bringing them home took place.

HONOLULU -

A long awaited homecoming could take place for two fallen servicemen, in just a matter of months.

The first step to bringing the men home took place Friday morning.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl is a place where heroes are remembered and buried.

But in an unusual ceremony, two sets of remains were taken out of the ground.

"We're disintering two caskets with unknown remains from the Korean War. Then we'll bring them back to JPAC for forensic analysis," said Dr. Michael Dolski, a historian with the Joint-POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is known as JPAC.

Anthropologists at JPAC will closely examine the bones while experts will compare dental and other medical records to identify the remains.

Why were these particular bones taken from the ground?  Crews had already matched up missing men with the locations of remains found nearly 60 years ago.

"We did extensive research and we were able to associate these remains with certain individuals," said JPAC forensic anthropologist, Debra Princezinni.

The two sets of remains are just some of the nearly 3,000 burials of unknowns at Punchbowl from World War II and Korea.

In the past 28 years, JPAC has exhumed 39 caskets and has made 39 identifications. But, efforts have been stepped up to end the mystery of the unknowns.

More than a dozen disinterments are planned each year for the future.

"JPAC is committed to identifying every missing American from past wars," said Dolski.

The identification process is expected to take about two-and-a-half to three months.

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