Once a month, 30 government specialists in DNA, genealogy and archaeology travel to a different city around the country to hold group and individual sessions with family members of unidentified soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed in combat. The government sends invitations to the events to the families they know are interested, but investigators welcome any family members who think their relatives might be among the missing.
Larry Greer, public affairs director of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, urged anyone in that situation to contact his office.
"If you think we don't know where you are, contact us," he said. "Eventually, we may need to come back to you and say, 'We think we've found him. We need a DNA sample.' "
The labs are identifying about 100 people a year, with the goal of doubling that by 2015. The specialists come to each meeting prepared to take DNA samples and with individual files prepared for each of the families they know are coming. Greer said many families bring children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of the service members.
"Frequently, it's the first time these young people have ever heard about the effort to find Uncle Joe or Granddad," Greer said.
For more information on the meetings or to contact them, go to the Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office website and click on "Family Events."