SNA International [sna-intl.com/services/genealogy] contracts with the Department of the Army to conduct genealogical research for soldiers who are “unaccounted for” from World War II and the Korean War. Unaccounted for soldiers include those who were reporting missing in action and never found or who were not definitively identified (such as those who died while being held captive in Prisoner of War camps, etc.). With the advent of DNA testing, it is now possible to match any remains that may be found with DNA from living relatives of the missing soldier. The Army hopes to obtain DNA samples from eligible relatives of these soldiers. The job of the genealogists working with SNA is to research the family relationships of the soldier; once family members are found and contacted, their contact information is passed on to the Army. The Army then contacts the family members to ask if they may wish to participate in the repatriation program by completing a DNA test; participation in DNA testing is always completely voluntary.
In addition to locating living family members of the soldiers, the genealogist is also attempting to identify the primary and secondary next of kin of the soldier—those most closely-related and eldest living family members (in accordance with the probate laws of the state from which the soldier enlisted).
The Army hopes to obtain three types of DNA from family members of soldiers and has specific relationship requirements for each of the three types of DNA it seeks. Y-DNA is that DNA that is passed down in the paternal line, from father to son. In general, any male in the family who has the same surname as the soldier (and is a biological relative) is likely to be an eligible Y-DNA donor. He may be a son of the soldier, a brother of the soldier, a nephew of the soldier, an uncle of the soldier, the son of an uncle of the soldier, or a male descendant of the soldier’s father’s paternal grandfather, etc.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the female side of the family. Eligible donors include the descendants of the soldier’s sisters, and the descendants of the soldier’s mother’s sisters. Eligible donors can include males as well as females, but not the children of an eligible male donor. For example, the soldier’s mother has a sister who has a daughter and a son. The daughter and her children are eligible mitochondrial DNA donors but only the son is an eligible donor—his children are not. Once a male is encountered in the mitochondrial DNA line, the eligibility is broken and does not extend past that male.
Autosomal DNA is DNA from the nuclear family unit—the soldier, his parents, his brothers and sisters, and the soldier’s children. It does not extend past these persons.
Army: Past Conflict Repatriations Branch PRCB
Mission Statement: The Past Conflict Repatriations Branch is an organization under the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operation Center (CMAOC) at the Army Human Resources Command (HRC) in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Our primary missions is to collect, assess, integrate and distribute to the next of kin, concerned citizens, and other government agencies information relating to Soldiers who remain “unaccounted for” from World Wars I and II, the Korean, and the Vietnam War. We maintain contact with family members though phone calls, written and email correspondence, in person at Family Members Updates, and during Annual Government Briefings (Korea and Southeast Asia only). We are also responsible for implementing legislations and POW repatriation plans, maintaining case files for unaccounted-for Soldiers and for conducting Army POW/MIA awareness programs.
Family Member Updates and Annual Briefings are sponsored by the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMC). Experts present information on investigation and recovery efforts, and on the latest technologies used to identify remains, including DNA collections. Archival research and other topics are also presented to the families and at the end of the all-day Saturday sessions, families are invited to privately review details of their own cases.
Proactive outreach programs to seek out and locate new family members are a key component of establishing and maintain contact. The most critical person we are seeking out is the family member most closely related to the missing service member. This individual is known as the Primary Next of Kin (PNOK). Once in touch with the PNOK, we request DNA family reference samples which are used as a main source to identifying remains and establishing a positive connection for identification.
Additionally, we assist the family by answering questions and referring them to other agencies that can assist in answering their inquiry. Personnel records are maintained at the National Personnel Records Center and Individual Deceased Personnel Files are maintained at the National Archives in Suitland, MD.
The Army Past Conflict Repatriations Branch is standing by to answer any questions or concerns regarding a still unaccounted for Soldier or Army Air Corps Airman from WWII at 800-892-2490, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about missing and unaccounted-for Soldiers from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, including the names of those Soldiers, can be found at www.dpaa.mil.