Back to Top Skip to main content

AFMES DNA lab helps identify the fallen of past conflicts

Gina Parada, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System DNA analyst, collects a DNA sample during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo) Gina Parada, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System DNA analyst, collects a DNA sample during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

Recommended Content:

Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — Members from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System traveled to Louisville Kentucky recently, to support the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency Family Member Update.

The mission of DPAA civilian and military personnel, along with other U.S. and foreign specialists, research, investigate, recover and identify remains of Americans unaccounted for from World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, and Iraq/Persian Gulf Wars.

The AFMES DNA Operations Laboratory supports the DPAA family member updates by identifying and collecting relative family reference samples needed for comparison to DNA results generated by the DNA Ops Lab,” said Dr. Timothy McMahon, Department of Defense DNA Operations director. 

Mrs. Marjorie Mahar (center), shows relatives of missing service members photos and articles of her older brother, U.S. Army Private First Class Roland L. Bowser during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. Four of Mahar’s five brothers served in the U.S. Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)Mrs. Marjorie Mahar (center), shows relatives of missing service members photos and articles of her older brother, U.S. Army Private First Class Roland L. Bowser during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. Four of Mahar’s five brothers served in the U.S. Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

DNA can be used to support anthropology and archaeological of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. DNA samples can also be used to exclude individuals from other sets of remains. 

During the FMU, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory analysts collected samples from donating family members via cotton swabs.

“We utilized the swabs to collect cells on the inside of a person’s cheek,” said Gina Parada, AFMES DNA analyst. “It was extremely touching to hear the family members talk about their missing loved ones and it reminded me how sacred this mission is.”

McMahon said his team’s goal is to acquire at least two maternal, paternal and autosomal DNA reference samples for every case. Current forensic testing includes mtDNA sequencing (maternal lineage), Y chromosomal STR testing (paternal line) and autosomal STR testing (mother, father, siblings, children). We utilize all testing methods due to the age of the samples and providing the greatest ability to have a reference to use for comparisons. This allows us to include or exclude an individual. By getting two of each type, AFMES-AFDIL can facilitate any scenario that may arise from the DNA testing and allow for more efficient testing.

In addition to DNA collection, these meetings are a way for families to learn about the overall accounting community mission and to discuss their loved ones case with their DPAA case analyst. These gatherings also provide an opportunity for families of missing personnel to meet one another and share experiences with those who best understand their loss. 

“I learned about these updates from a local paper a few years back,” said David E. Franklin, whose uncle went missing in action in July 1950 during the early days of the Korean War. “I donated DNA and sent in additional information, anything that would help.”

Franklin’s uncle, U.S. Army Cpl. Paul E. Hoots, E Company, 34th Infantry. Regiment, is one of 7,702 Americans still unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to the DPAA. 

“Growing up it wasn’t something we talked about but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened to my uncle,” Franklin said. “I will keep coming to these meetings as long as I can, it gives me an opportunity share about my uncle’s service, keep his memory alive.” 

Franklin’s memories and thoughts of his uncle echo the inscription on the POW/MIA flag “You are not forgotten.” 

“For as far back as I can remember, my family kept his bedroom exactly the same from the day he left,” Franklin said. “It’s good to know that there are people out there who are still looking, still searching.”

McMahon said that this opportunity to provide closure is not lost on him.

“I think that this is the noblest of all missions and I’m honored to come to work every day knowing that what I do is for the missing service members and their families,” said McMahon. “There is no greater feeling than seeing the relief on a family member’s face that their loved one is home.”

For more information about the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency visit their website, or visit AFMES for information about the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.


You also may be interested in...

Request for Autopsy Report and Supplemental Information

Form/Template
2/15/2019

Use this form to obtain records/reports/photos of remains by persons legally authorized access to this information.

Recommended Content:

Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

AFMES, DPAA shares missions with service members, families

Article
2/6/2019
Todd Livick, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Outreach and Communications director, speaks to U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructors about the DPAA mission at the U.S. Army S.E.R.E. school, Fort Rucker, Alabama. The DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System provided information on their respective missions and held question and answer session with the Soldiers to provide a better understanding about the two agencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

They’re all here for the same reason; to bring their loved one home

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

Positive identification is assured

Article
11/21/2018
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ricky Penuelaz, 59th Medical Wing lab technician, uses a pipette to put blood on an Air Force trainee’s DNA card. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System-Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples of the Identification of Remains inspected Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, on the collection of DNA cards. AFMES-AFRSSIR is responsible for managing, coordinating and maintaining the collection of DNA blood reference cards for all active duty, reserve, and National Guard service members. This is done when service members first enter the military and is collected at one of nine basic training sites, dependent on their branch of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

The goal of the DNA cards is to never have an ‘unknown soldier’ or unknown military member ever again

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

AFMES participates in 'Safe and Sound' week

Article
8/27/2018
Air Force Tech Sgt. Aisuluu Alford (left) and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Tutt, both Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic toxicology laboratory technicians, grab supplies out of the Shelter-In-Place Kit during a Shelter-In-Place exercise. The exercise was part of Safe and Sound week where AFMES personnel were able to engage in different safety activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Safe and Sound Week is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and understanding of safety and health programs within the workplace

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

AFMES DoD DNA Operations Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
8/22/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Department of Defense DNA Operations

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory

AFMES DoD DNA Lab receives perfect score

Article
8/6/2018
Sean Patterson, quality management section DNA analyst, checks expiration dates on reagents in the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System – Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. AFDIL recently underwent a quality assessment where they received zero findings of nonconformance for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

This was the first time AFDIL has received zero findings during a quality assessment

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

AFMES embraces resiliency

Article
7/9/2018
Col. Louis Finelli, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System director, talks with AFMES personnel during a resiliency day at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del., May 24, 2018. Finelli talked about the importance of coming together as a family to be able to destress and be more resilient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

AFMES town hall focused on workplace and summer safety, security awareness and resiliency

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

AFMES DNA FAQs 2018

Fact Sheet
6/27/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | DNA Identification Laboratory

AFMES Fact Sheet 2018

Fact Sheet
6/7/2018

This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner | DoD DNA Operations | Forensic Toxicology

AFMES participates in Operation Joint Recovery, introduces MACRMS

Article
3/20/2018
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Platt (right), Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic pathologist, demonstrates an examination at a simulated Mortuary Affairs Contaminated Remains Mitigation Site during Operation Joint Recovery exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Mar. 10, 2018. Platt familiarized participants in recovery and processing of contaminated remains. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

AFMES primary role in the exercise was to familiarize participants in contaminated remains recovery

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Earthquake shakes Dover Air Force Base

Article
12/1/2017
A map of Delaware and the surrounding areas where a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred Nov. 30, 2017, six miles northeast of Dover is shown. (Courtesy photo)

On November 30, 2017, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred six miles northeast of Dover, Delaware

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Commentary: Medicolegal death investigations from a federal viewpoint

Article
11/24/2017
A view of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System facility is shown July 21, 2017, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Pursuant to a Base Relocation and Closure, the new AFMES facility was constructed adjoined with the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. Prior to the BRAC, AFMES called Rockville, Maryland, home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Investigators at AFMES face unique challenges inherent to the military structure and area of responsibility

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Medical-Legal Examinations

DPAA accounts for 183 missing service members in fiscal year 2017

Article
10/27/2017
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducts a ceremony for POW/MIA Recognition Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2017. POW/MIA Recognition Day, first established in 1979 through a proclamation from President Jimmy Carter, is an observance to honor and recognize the sacrifices of those Americans who have been prisoners of war and to remind the Nation of those who are still missing in action. Today, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is conducting worldwide operations to provide the fullest possible accounting for those classified as still missing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Bruch)

DPAA works closely with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, part of the Research and Development Directorate of the Military Health System

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DNA Identification Laboratory

AFMES, helping bring loved ones home one FRS at a time

Article
4/7/2017
Personnel from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry Family Reference Sample-Laboratory Automation group pose for a photo, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The FRS-LA group’s primary mission is to process family reference samples for the past accounting community as well as current day operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

The Family Reference Sample-Laboratory Automation group was established in October 2016

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations

USS Oklahoma Display Board

Photo
12/2/2016
Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Ronald Keohane, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; listen to Deborah Skillman, Director, Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, explain the display board of confirmed USS Oklahoma remains identified by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory Nov. 4, 2016, at Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Weiler and Keohane received briefings and met with personnel at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, AFMES and the Joint Personal Effects Depot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Ronald Keohane, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; listen to Deborah Skillman, Director, Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military ...

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.