DNA to X-ray: ID remains from North Korea military has a range of tools



Remains of 55 US service members expect from North Korea

United States expected that the return of the missing American service members killed in the War in korea; Greg Palkot reports.

The U.S. military remains, released by North Korea on Friday will be sent to a military lab in Hawaii, where they have you in a system that routinely identifies service members from decades-old conflict.

Identifications are dependent on the combination of multiple lines of evidence, and they can take time: Even after decades, some things remain unsolved.

Dog tags found with the remains can help, and even pieces of clothing can be traced to the material used in uniforms. Teeth can be matched with dental records. Bones can be used for the estimation of the height. And the characteristic shape of a clavicle bone may be linked to records of X-rays taken decades ago to look for tuberculosis, said Charles Prichard, a spokesman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

If a DNA-analysis is called, samples are sent to a military DNA lab in Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Small samples of bone or teeth, which is not greater than the amount of bone in the last joint of the pinkie finger, are enough to yield usable DNA, said Timothy McMahon, who supervises the Dover-lab as the director of the Department of Defense DNA Operations.

Each sample is sanded to remove surface contamination, ground to the consistency of baby powder, and then treated with a substance that dissolves the bone and let the DNA-analyses. That DNA is then compared with genetic material from living people who are related to the fog.

The military is collecting DNA of these family members since 1992, and has reached with the family of 92 percent of the 8,100 service members who were listed as missing at the end of the Korean War, McMahon said.

DNA-technology is a tool that is used to identify the remains of AMERICAN soldiers, released by North Korea.



The goal is to make pieces of DNA in general, between the known and the family members of the unidentified remains, which suggests that both belong to a particular gender. An analysis develops a profile that combines with what is found in 23 locations in the DNA, for example.

By analyzing different types of DNA, in the laboratory, scientists can search for markers passed down through generations of women, or men, or both sexes. The lab once linked to a great-great-great-great-grandniece, who initially had no idea that she was related to the missing service member, McMahon said.

As soon as a link is made, the lab will assess how strong the presumption remains belonging to a certain person, and sends the result back to Hawaii. There, it is combined with the other lines of evidence.

“We are just a spoke in a wheel to make the identification,” McMahon said. “We all work together.”


Since Oct. 1, the Hawaii lab has identified 25 service members from the Korean War, a part of the 119 identifications made in total in that time, Prichard said. For the 12 months prior to that, 42 sets of remains from the Korean War were accounted for, including the briefing of the relatives in the person of the 183 in general.

The agency determines, not only from the Korean War, but also the second world War, the first gulf war in Iraq.


How long does it take?

If a clavicle bone may be linked to an X-ray, can be done in just three days, Prichard said. But in other cases it may take decades. He noted some of the remains recovered from North Korea, from 1990 to 2005 are still awaiting identification.

For Jan Curran, Gilbert, Arizona, the new remains turned over by North Korea have moved a lot.

Curran has no memory of her father, a navy aviator Lt. Charles Garrison, who was shot down over Korea and was established in May 1951. He died in captivity, and no remains have been identified.

Curran, 70, dozens of years of work to give him a proper burial. They attended numerous meetings for families of those missing in action in Korea. She was the driving force in the late 1990’s in the get of a number of her relatives — including her sister, a aunt, a uncle, and cousins and nieces — to join her in giving DNA samples to the army in an attempt to identify her father’s remains, should they be found.

Their long wait is now come to an end?

“We know that it is a small chance, but we can’t help but hope,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “It would be wonderful. It is too much to hope for.

“It’s amazing, after all these years, how many it still can’t hurt to have him.”

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