New database to help ID missing WWII soldiers

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Web site

Pentagon officials said they have finished compiling the names of almost 78,000 missing U.S. service members from World War II in a database accessible to the public online.

Researchers from the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command spent three years combing through paper records at the National Archives and Records Administration and elsewhere to gather the data, according to a June 4 Defense Department statement.

After converting records on missing service members into an electronic format, the researchers used computer programs and additional records to resolve any discrepancies.

When the remains of missing service members are recovered and identified in the future, families will have the opportunity to accept the identification and inter their loved ones, at which time those service members’ names will be removed from the list, according to the statement. New names will be added as information about missing individuals surfaces.

The database can be accessed through the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office Web site.

The office also keeps tabs on missing service members from the Korean, Cold, Vietnam and first Gulf wars. Tracking information on individuals who went missing during those conflicts is often easier, said office spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Mary Olsen. “As the conflicts get more recent, we have more information,” she said.

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