Monday, July 7, 2008

Honoring U.S. Military Dead: Episode 5 of Season 2 of Lifetime’s ARMY WIVES

Episode 5 of Season 2 of Lifetime Television’s ARMY WIVES dealt with a very serious topic – the commitment of the U.S. to find and bring home the remains of Americans missing in action of past conflicts.

And those of you who have read the non-fiction book on which the series is based – Tanya Biank’s ARMY WIVES – will understand the poignancy of Trevor’s radio talk remarks about the people who go to the far corners of the world looking for these remains. (No spoiler alert – you’ll have to read the non-fiction book yourself.)

In this episode there are a lot of mentions of JPAC – the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Below is JPAC’s mission as reported on the official U.S. military website

The mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation's past conflicts. The highest priority of the organization is the return of any living Americans that remain prisoners of war. To date, the U.S. government has not found any evidence that there are still American POWs in captivity from past U.S. conflicts.

JPAC is located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The command was activated on Oct. 1, 2003, created from the merger of the 30-year-old U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, and the 11-year-old Joint Task Force - Full Accounting. Commanded by a flag officer, JPAC is manned by approximately 400 handpicked Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Department of the Navy civilians. The laboratory portion of JPAC, referred to as the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL), is the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world.

JPAC also maintains three permanent overseas detachments, each commanded by a lieutenant colonel, to assist with command and control, logistics and in-country support during investigation and recovery operations. They are Detachment One located in Bangkok, Thailand, Detachment Two in Hanoi, Vietnam and Detachment Three in Vientiane, Laos. JPAC has a fourth detachment, Detachment Four, located at Camp Smith, Hawaii, responsible for recovery team personnel when they are not deployed.

In episode 5 of ARMY WIVES an enlisted woman (the mother of two young sons) has to decide whether she will attend the memorial service for the remains of the birth father she never knew. While she is unsure what to do, her father’s Vietnam army buddies are relieved that, after 35 years, they can finally honor their comrade.

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