Recently I was approached by a mass communication specialist (media guy) currently stationed at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). He was working on a promotional video for the Command, and was wondering whether he could use some of my artwork, which I had no problem with. He also inquired if it would be possible to give my special treatment to the JPAC logo. Knowing who JPAC guys are and what they do, I immediately accepted the challenge. Considering the amount of respect and gratitude these guys deserve, it was a true honor to do something nice for them in return. As these quiet types are normally not exactly on the front pages of military media digests, here is a little background on what JPAC is about.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is a joint task force within the United States Department of Defense (DOD) whose mission is to account for Americans who are listed as Prisoners Of War (POW), or Missing In Action (MIA), from all past wars and conflicts. It has been especially visible in conjunction with the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. The mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation's past conflicts.” The motto of JPAC is “Until they are home”.
JPAC is a standing joint task force within the United States Pacific Command. Its headquarters is located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. In DOD terminology, “joint” means the organization comprises members from two or more branches of the military.
JPAC maintains three permanent overseas detachments and two local detachments devoted to the ongoing tasks of POW/MIA accounting:
Detachment 1 – Bangkok, Thailand (American Embassy in Thailand)
Detachment 2 – Hanoi, Vietnam
Detachment 3 – Vientiane, Laos
Detachment 4 – Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii; this detachment is the home base of the recovery teams when they are not deployed
Each detachment is under the command of a field grade officer of the United States armed forces.
HQ Detachment – Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii; this detachment is responsible for the day to day administrative operation of the command
The laboratory portion of JPAC is referred to as the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL).
JPAC is commanded by a flag officer, and is staffed by approximately 400 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and Department of the Navy civilians. JPAC’s operations are divided into four areas: Analysis and Investigation, Recovery, Identification, and Closure. JPAC investigates leads concerning Americans who were killed in action but were never brought home. This process involves close coordination with other U.S. agencies involved in the POW/MIA issue. JPAC carries out technical negotiations and talks with representatives of foreign governments around the world in order to ensure positive in-country conditions are maintained or created for JPAC investigative and recovery operations wherever JPAC teams deploy in the world. If enough evidence is found, a site will be recommended for recovery. JPAC has 18 Recovery Teams whose members travel throughout the world to recover missing from past wars. A typical recovery team is made up of 10 to 14 people, led by a team leader and a forensic anthropologist. Other members of the team typically include a team sergeant, linguist, medic, life support technician, forensic photographer, RF systems communications technician/operator and an explosive ordnance disposal technician. Additional experts are added to the mission as needed, such as mountaineering specialists or divers.
The team carefully excavates the site and screens the soil to locate all possible remains and artifacts. In the case of an airplane crash, a recovery site may be quite large.
Once the recovery effort is completed, the team returns to Hawaii. All remains and artifacts found during the recovery operation are then transported from a U.S. military plane to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory.
Upon arrival at the laboratory, all remains and artifacts recovered from a site are signed over to the custody of the CIL and stored in a secure area. Forensic anthropologists carefully analyze all remains and artifacts to determine the sex, race, age at death, and height of the individual. Anthropologists may also analyze trauma caused at or near the time of death and pathological conditions of bone such as arthritis or previous healed breaks. Lab scientists use a variety of techniques to establish the identification of missing Americans, including analysis of skeletal and dental remains, sampling mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and analyzing material evidence, personal effects, aviation life-support equipment (gear used by aircrew: helmets, oxygen masks, harnesses, etc.), or other military equipment.
Often, recovered military and personal equipment artifacts are forwarded to the USAF Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL, located at Brooks City-Base, in San Antonio, TX), for advanced scientific and historical analysis. The LSEL (a highly unique scientific facility within the US and the world) is singularly qualified to scientifically study recovered military equipment artifacts and determine critical forensic aspects, to include, but not limited to: number of unaccounted for personnel represented at the loss site (i.e. 2 aviators), branch of military service represented (i.e. Navy), vehicle type represented (i.e. F-4 aircraft type), time frame represented (i.e. c. 1967), and represented levels of survivability (i.e. any evidence of fatal/non-fatal status). Frequently, the LSEL is able to provide crucial case determinations (through analysis of recovered equipment artifacts) when other critical evidence (such as human remains: bone or teeth) is not recovered or available, and/or does not yield any substantial conclusions through testing (i.e. DNA testing).
The recovery and identification process may take years to complete. In addition to the factors previously mentioned, each separate line of evidence must be examined at the CIL (bones, teeth, and material evidence) and correlated with all historical evidence. All reports undergo a thorough peer review process that includes an external review by independent experts. Additionally, if mtDNA is part of the process, the search for family reference samples for mtDNA comparison can add a significant amount of time to the identification process. Completed cases are forwarded to the appropriate service Mortuary Affairs office, whose members personally notify next-of-kin family members.
JPAC conducts a number of missions each year in its ongoing efforts. The missions per year for individuals missing for each war:
• Korean War: 5 missions
• Vietnam War (including Southeast Asia): 10 missions
• World War II and the Cold War: 10 missions
Still missing, as of 4 December 2012:
• World War II: 73,677
• Korean War: 7,938
• Vietnam War: 1,655
• Cold War: 126
• Iraq and other conflicts: 6
• Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan War): 1 – Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl
As always, the above insignia are available on a limited number of selected quality products via my “Military Insignia” galleries at Zazzle. You may simply follow the direct links in the article to navigate to the corresponding galleries
I will also make my insignia designs available free of charge to any military units and personnel, for any non-profit/non-commercial and charitable causes, benefiting troops and their families. In addition, I would make my designs available free of charge to any military branches, formations and units for any non-commercial internal duty-specific purposes, such as unit-related web design, training materials or presentations, as I did on many occasions in the past.
The above information provided in part by Wikipedia, U.S. Army Center of Military history, The Institute of Heraldry, Global Security, and the official website of the JPAC.