Fallen heroes return to American soil

Denise To
Denise To

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The remains of three fallen heroes returned to American Soil Friday. The remains are among thousands still missing from previous wars.

Each year the remains of nearly 75 Americans are identified and returned to their families by the joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

"These losses may have occurred sixty years ago but when the family is in the lab and they are accepting the remains, it might as well happened yesterday, the emotions are very very powerful," forensic anthropologist Denise To said.

These flag draped cases carry remains of soldiers lost during the Vietnam War and World War II.

"One of them was our comrad from the Vietnam War, a lot of us fought for many years and just wanted to welcome those remains, that person back home," Vietnam veteran Pete Elson said.

It's a promise America makes to all service members.

"Some were left behind that they are welcomed back and Hawaii here, were the first place that they land in American soil." Elson said.

Anthropologists in Hawaii will try to identify the fallen heroes and returned them to their families.

"When we get to meet the family members and speak with them it's a very powerful emotion, it's a very powerful statement and it's very moving. When you actually see the time when we recover, what you don't see is those decades of investigative research, library work, interviews with witnesses," To said.

The search process begins with good old fashion investigation and ends with closure for a family that sacrificed so much.