A Hawaii-born soldier’s ‘sacred mission’ is bringing closure to families of those lost at war

For two years a Hawaii-born soldier spearheaded recovery efforts of MIA remains

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Army Capt. David Macaspac has searched for remains of U.S. soldiers who went missing in World War II and in Vietnam.

It's hard work in difficult settings.

"Every mission that you go on is unique," he said. "We've done missions in jungle terrain in Vietnam, in Cambodia. We go to old battlefields in Germany."

The Farrington High School graduate just completed a two-year stint as Recovery Team Leader and Section Chief for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The Department of Defense agency is charged with finding and returning remains of missing personnel to their families.

"Just being a part of this agency is probably the most incredible thing I'll do in my whole career," he said.

Macaspac served as team leader on six excavation assignments. Missions lasted up to two months and sometimes involved more than 100 service personnel and civilians.

"These could be airplane crashes or helicopter crashes. The debris field could be very large and you're on a mountaintop. We've done missions in jungle terrain in Vietnam and in Cambodia," he said.

Most of Macaspac’s trips yielded results with the discovery of material evidence like dog tags and watches or possible human remains. Those are being tested by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

"To know that I play a small part in trying to find remains and bring them home to their families who've been waiting 50 to 80 years for answers for their loved ones is very humbling," he said.

Macaspac credits his team members for their contributions from linguists, medics and explosives experts to forensic anthropologists, life support investigators and site managers.

The 14-year Army veteran has served multiple deployments to war zones. He believes working on the recovery team has been the most rewarding job in his military career.

"It's a sacred mission with a moral imperative. It's right for us to do this," he said.

Macaspac will leave the accounting agency for another assignment, but he'll continue supporting the DPAA's efforts.

“My responsibility doesn’t end to the mission here. My job is to tell the story,” he said.

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