Families Wait for Lost Soldiers to be Identified
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Cruelty knows no Memorial Day like the thousands of families who wait patiently for the federal government to deliver on a promise to 'leave no man behind.'
Tens of thousands of service members killed in World War-Two, the Korean and Vietnam Wars remain unidentified. That means some families have now waited for 70 years or more for closure and a proper burial.
The hands of time have not been kind to Francis Knobel's family. It has taken almost 65 years for this day to be at Arlington National Cemetery. So long, that closure for corporal Knobel's parents and sisters never came, they're all deceased.Forensic expert Ed Huffine, who previously worked for the federal government, says the fed's methods of identification remains stuck in the dark ages. Instead of using nuclear dna up-front, Huffine says they still rely heavily on a painstaking process known as anthropological review, "doing a DBA led process significantly reduces both the cost and time of identifications while making more accurate identifications." More than 80-thousand American service members remain "missing in action," most fought in WWII. DNA experts suspect as many as half of all service members could be identified, the rest are forever lost at sea. The agency formerly known as Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Account Command or J-PAC working with a budget of 100 million dollars has to first locate the bodies and then make the identification. In 2014,the remains of only 60 service members were ID'd. In theory, the cost for each, was one-point-six million dollars. Julie Houx, Francis Knobel's niece, was born nearly 10 years after Knobel was killed in a fierce three day battle in North Korea. In 1950, Knobel was was just a 20-year old kid from Wisconsin, almost the same age as Houx's daughter, Laci. His formal and proper burial comes more than six decades after his death. Julie will tell you she's proud and grateful, "and at the same time, I'm angry, you know that it took so long. It should not have taken this long." The department of defense used dental records and a chest x-rays to identify Francis Knobel. The agency known as 'J-PAC' was replaced this year by the defense POW-MIA accounting agency.