A DOD unit tasked with recovering the bodies of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea has been holding fake ceremonies with planes that can’t fly, towed to places for a photo-op showing caskets being off-loaded as families of the departed watch at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Families believed they were witnessing the return of a loved-one. The Military sees it as a feel good thing, others call it “The Big Lie.”
“Part of the ceremony involves symbolically transferring the recovered remains from an aircraft to a vehicle for follow-on transportation to the lab. Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability. This transfer symbolizes the arrival of our fallen service members.
“It is important to note that recovered remains ceremoniously transferred from the aircraft to the [bus] have been in the lab undergoing forensic analysis to determine identity. When remains first arrive in Hawaii, JPAC cannot confirm if the remains are those of an American servicemember.”
NBC writes that the ceremonies have been known among some of the military and civilian staff at the base as The Big Lie.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months after two scathing reports were released this summer.
In July, The Associated Press ran a story exposing a 2012 internal JPAC report that found the agency to be “acutely dysfunctional” with some missions that amounted to little more than paid vacations for staffers.
A second investigation released weeks later by the Government Accountability Office found that Pentagon efforts to account for fallen troops missing overseas were inefficient and in need of overhaul, according to congressional sources.
In 2010, lawmakers mandated JPAC to reach an annual goal of recovering at least 200 fallen troops from overseas battlefields by 2015, but it had failed to build the capacity to do so, the GAO found. Currently the Hawaii-based command averages less than 70 individuals per year.
Much of the inefficiency found by the GAO researchers comes down to a turf war between JPAC and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, which shares some of the same responsibilities, Congressional sources said. Read more at Stars and Stripes
UPDATE: I should have said that I can understand that remains must be identified before a family can be assured that their loved-one has been returned home. I can also understand that there is a need to honor those service members, but what in the hell are they thinking that they don’t explain the facts the families?
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