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News & Stories
News | Nov. 18, 2015

DPAA Conducts Recovery Operations in India

By SSgt Erik Cardenas

Thirteen members from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, along with a team from Rimo Expeditions, conducted search and recovery efforts on the Himalayan Mountains in the Arunachal Pradesh region, India, in search of eight Army Air Corps members who went down in a B-24J aircraft in 1944.

Efforts began on October 2, 2015 with a 10-mile hike through treacherous terrain climbing nearly 10,000 feet to the base of the summit where a base camp was set up as home for the team’s 35 day mission.

To reach the site daily, the team would have to walk a mile and half, climbing about 1,000 feet along the way. Working on the mountain side was extremely risky as the team had to dig on slopes ranging from 30 to 60 degree inclines. The excavation process was slow due to the larger amounts of moss covering the soil which revealed large unstable boulders underneath the excavation area.

"This site was challenging because it was located on dangerous terrain, physically demanding, and was archaeologically complex," said Anthropologist, Dr. Meghan-Tomisita Cosgriff-Hernandez. "But, the team stayed mentally vigilant and committed to the mission, which helped us excavate the site to its evidentiary and archaeological boundaries."

Eleven days into the excavation, the team made an uplifting discovery as they unearthed potential evidence of the aviators they were searching for. The sense of accomplishment and excitement permeated throughout the team members as the possibility of identifying one of the missing was a close reality. Only a few days later the team was once again rewarded as more evidence emerged from the mountainside.

"It really was an incredible experience and an unforgettable success being able to bring back remains and other evidence which hopefully will be identified as belonging to one or more of our unaccounted-for service members from WWII," said Cosgriff-Hernandez.

After 35 grueling days on the mountain, nobody could ask for more.

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Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency PAO
Washington, D.C.
2300 Defense Pentagon
Attn: Outreach and Communications
Washington, D.C. 20301-2300