Recently, India turned over a few tiny bone fragments to the U.S. which perhaps will bring closure to a few American families that lost a loved one over the mountains of India in WWII. This is the first time any remains were returned to the U.S. from India.
U.S. military members conducted a ceremony to pay their final respects to their fallen brothers. They believe the remains are from the crew members of a B-24 bomber and military transport plane that crashed over the Himalayan Mountains.
“This is a sad duty, but it means a great deal,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who watched the ceremony. “Those guys whose remains are in those coffins would have wanted that, and would be proud and happy to be home, and their families too.”
Carter stated that this act sends a message to those currently serving in warzones because it shows them “what we would go through for somebody who perished serving their country today.”
According to an AP news story, along with a few artifacts from the B-24 flight were two bone fragments small enough to fit into a sandwich bag. The articles and bones were found during a U.S. excavation dig on the Indian mountains.
With the find, and subsequent return of the artifacts and bones, it brings hope to the families of the 350 service members listed as POW/MIA in India that someday their loved one’s may be laid to rest in the United States.
Gary Stark, the India desk officer for the POW/MIA Accounting Agency, stated the B-24 – known as Hot As Hell – was reported missing with its crew of eight in January 1944.
There was a second set of remains from the same area turned over to the POW/MIA agency by a third party .The Pentagon said the remains are “possibly” related to a C-109 that crashed on July 17, 1945, traveling from India to China.
The bone fragments will be tested in a DNA testing facility in Hawaii to see if they are indeed from the lost crew members.
The Pentagon restated its commitment to families of the thousands of servicemen still unaccounted for from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. This is in response to family’s complaints of lack of timely response and neglect of Pentagon agencies to find and recover remains from over seas.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, ordered the MIA accounting bureaucracy to reorganize and consolidate as part of an effort to improve its performance, which also has come under criticism in Congress.
As of last year, the POW/MIA office has increased the number of remains identified to nearly 100.
As of now there are no plans to resume excavations in India for the current fiscal year which ends on September 30, 2016. Officials added that they, as of yet, did not know of plans for the 2017 fiscal year.