LTC Faith and DNA testing of remains

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LTC Faith and DNA testing of remains

The other day my friend Jonn Lilyea at This Ain't Hell noted that one of our heroes has been retured to us.

The folks who I mentioned last night in regards to the movie about the Chosin Reservoir sent us some information on LTC Don Carlos Faith Jr., Medal of Honor recipient and hero of the Chosin battle whose body was just identified and recovered this last October from the battlefield by the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) field recovery team.

If you get a chance, go and read that post, including LTC Faith's MOH citation, which includes:

When the enemy launched a fanatical attack against his battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Faith unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action. When the enemy penetrated the positions, Lieutenant Colonel Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the position. During an attack by his battalion to effect a junction with another U.S. unit, Lieutenant Colonel Faith reconnoitered the route for, and personally directed, the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir and then directed the movement of his vehicles which were loaded with wounded until all of his command had passed through the enemy fire. Having completed this he crossed the reservoir himself. Assuming command of the force his unit had joined he was given the mission of attacking to join friendly elements to the south. Lieutenant Colonel Faith, although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire. He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring.

Anyway, following up on that story, another This Ain't Hell Blogger, "Hondo" followed up on some of the DNA testing that was used to identify the remains.  What follows is his post, which I am replicating here with his permission.

Jonn’s article yesterday about the recovery of MOH recipient LTC Don Carlos Faith Jr’s remains brought to light something I didn’t know – and which may not be common knowledge.  Some of TAH’s readers may be interested.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is the DoD entity having the mission of accounting for US POWs/MIAs.  They often use maternal-line mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the identification of recovered remains.  That much is fairly well-known.

However, the JPAC also maintains lists of unaccounted for US personnel from three conflicts for which they still need maternal-line mtDNA samples.  These lists are reportedly reasonably complete, and are available in PDF and Excel formats; the PDF versions are linked below:

Excel versions of these lists may be found here under “Search”.

Additionally, the JPAC maintains a partial list of World War II unaccounted for personnel for whom current investigations have a critical need for mtDNA samples.  Unfortunately, the list from World War II is not complete due to the sheer magnitude of US personnel still not formally accounted for (78,000+) and the relatively limited scope of JPAC’s work to date on World War II casualty cases.

General contact information for JPAC can be found here; an explanation of who can give a useful sample can be found here.  If you or anyone you know have a relative who never came home, please consider seeing if you can help JPAC  find them.  Even if you can’t give the sample yourself, you may be able to help them locate someone who can.

Everyone deserves a proper burial – if possible, in their homeland.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.