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In a solemn moment yesterday afternoon at Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby remains of two fallen American service men who perished in Papua New Guinea 75 years ago were loaded onto a plane to be repatriated to Hawaii, United States.
This is the second mission accomplished and Mission Commander Captain Justin Harty said the recovery team worked between August 9 and September 23 and excavated a site in East Sepik.
They recovered human remains.
There were also investigations of five incidents in Oro, Enga, Western Highlands and the border of Madang and Morobe.
Asked why there could be remains of war personnel in the highlands where there was no war, he responded they could be airmen who were not too familiar flying in that terrain or weather challenges.
Further DNA tests would be done to the remains at labs and once verified relatives of the servicemen would be notified and brought over to Hawaii for a ceremony.
The families would then decide where to finally rest the remains of the servicemen.
The Defence Prisoner of War Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) aims to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing personnel to their families and the nation.
Capt Harty applauded the partnership from local people in communities they worked in, the partnership between Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Papua New Guinea Defence Force, University of Papua New Guinea, National Museum and Art Gallery and his recovery team.
US Ambassador to PNG Catherine Ebert-Grey said: “We meet this afternoon to for an honorable purpose, to thank Papua New Guineans for watching over our fallen brothers, and to respectfully repatriate the remains of American service men.”
“ To recognise our country men who fought side by side, who died side by side and to render our final salutes.”
“We are reminded of our obligation to bring everyone back home to their countries and their families,” she said.
On a modern political view, she said the ceremony also represented the seamless teamwork between PNG and the United States and a continuation of the long history of cooperation and support between the two governments.
She said the service men lost their lives over 75 years ago when PNG was part of an epic struggle that changed history.
“In battles on land, sea and in the air, thousands of lives were lost. While most of the dead were recovered and honoured. Many were not,” she said.
She said the intense experiences of war forged an enduring bond between PNG and allied forces when the forefathers stood together, prayed together and fought together to advance human dignity.
She said the legacy the service men they honored would hope for is peace and prosperity across the Pacific.