U. S. 7th Armored Division Association
Accounting for the WWII Unkowns and MIAs
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Last updated: June 2, 2014 - What's New?
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This web page was begun in 2013 to provide information on the Congressional hearings into the failures of the U.S. accounting community, which arose from two highly critical reports. There are 82 men of 7th Armored Division who have never been found and identified, and many of those are probably buried in U.S. military cemeteries among about 8,500 WWII Unknowns. But the accounting community is intentionally doing nothing to identify the WWII Unknowns with modern technology that did not exist when they were declared Unknown back in the 1940's.

Following the concern expressed by some at the 2013 Reunion, there is now an associated web page for those who wish to help by contacting their Representative and Senators.

Sadly, news events since the 2013 Reunion have added to the concern over the conduct of the accounting community. And these events are included here.


There have been so many reports of scandals and failures that it is becoming hard to keep track of all of them. So you may also want to click on the following links for their web pages of relevant reports.

  • Chief Rick Stone & Family Charitable Foundation
  • World War II Families for the Return of the Missing (WWRM)

  • House and Senate Hearings on MIA Accounting
    July 31-August 1, 2013

    The failure of accounting for (recovery and identification of) remains of the vast majority of troops killed in prior conflicts -- far most in WWII -- was severely criticized in reports made public in June-July 2013. These reports arose from a 2010 Congressional mandate that the accounting agencies account for 200 cases per year by 2015. The reports and the recognition that, despite 5 years of preparation, the agencies will not even come close to 200 cases by 2015, led to the first of a series of House and Senate hearings. Here are links to the video of the House and Senate hearings, as well as the two reports. There are many news accounts of the critical reports and the hearings; use Google to find them if you want to read more.

    August-October 2013
    Intentional Failure to Identify WWII Unknowns

    There are still 82 men of 7AD who have remain missing. While some were definitely lost beyond recovery in burning tanks and some are out there and need to be recovered, the probability is that many of them lie in U.S. military cemeteries as Unknowns because the technology of the 1940's could not identify them. There are about 8,500 WWII Unknowns, for whom modern technology, such as DNA matching, could answer the questions that could not be answered in the 1940's. But the accounting community has an intentional policy that ranks the identification of WWII Unknowns as the lowest priority, which in actual effect means no priority. There is an effort to try to build a common database of the biological evidence of the Missing and the Unknowns, but this is simply using the same information that was recorded in the 1940's. And such an effort was already made in 2012 on the Tarawa Unknowns, but JPAC management summarily blocked the effort to follow up on that research and do anything at all to identify the Tarawa Unknowns.

    Nothing new is being done to identify these men with modern technology. Nothing is planned to be done in the future to identify these men. And efforts by families and researchers on specific cases have actually been obstructed by the heads of the agencies that are supposed to be doing all they can to assure that no man is left behind. It is a tragic situation, in which the agencies perpetrate a cruel hoax on the families of these men, giving the illusion that something is being done when in fact nothing is being done, giving the illusion that the DNA samples that family members give will be compared to those of the Unknowns, when in fact no such thing is happening nor even planned to ever happen. The family members are going to their own graves with no hope of ever bringing home their soldier. And the buddies of the dead, the men who could answer crucial questions that might help in their recovery or identification, are taking those answers to their graves as well -- and no one from the accounting agencies is even trying to find out what questions to ask.

    The accounting agencies have gotten away with this because no one has called them to account, until now. Here are links to documents and news accounts that bring to light this horrible reality, this intentional failure to identify WWII Unknowns, this outright obstruction of identification efforts by the very community that is supposed to be identifying them. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that most of the staff level in these agencies are 200% dedicated to full recovery and identification of all MIAs, but their management will not let them do what is needed. These staff members are very good people put into a mission impossible situation by management that has no intention of identifying and accounting for the WWII Unknowns.

    There is one simple fact that says this most clearly. Out of about 8,500 WWII Unknowns, over the course of the last 35 years, the accounting community has identified a total of 14 (0.17%).

    But there is an even more staggering statistic. Even if DPMO and JPAC could clear the mandated 200 cases per year, it would take 41.5 years just to clear 8,500 WWII Unknowns.

    October 2013 - Phony "Arrival Ceremonies"

    The discovery that for 7 years, JPAC has been staging phony ceremonies purporting to honor the arrival of newly recovered remains was met with justifiable wide-spread condemnation of the hoax. Unfortunately, hoaxes are typical of JPAC's mentality, as noted above. Here are some of the news organization accounts of this travesty. If you saw it in a movie, you would say it was too absurd to be believable. But it is the reality of what has been going on at JPAC for 7 years.

    November 2013 - Chicago Soldier Left Behind

    And there were more news articles about the continuing scandals and failures.

    December 2013 - Stars & Stripes Feature Story:
    "Ex-investigator, critics say JPAC ignoring clues, technology that could bring unknowns home"

    JPAC's standard of "scientific certainty" before they will do DNA testing is what they hold as their reason for refusing to disinter and test remains. The absurdity of this standard seems obvious to everyone but JPAC. If there could be scientific certainty from the paperwork alone, then these men would not have been classified as unknowns in the 1940's. JPAC's refusal to apply modern DNA technology that did not exist in the 1950's to identify the WWII Unknowns and JPAC's outright obstruction of attempts to identify such soldiers led one family to sue for the right to test the remains of the soldier who the records show is very probably their family member. Meanwhile, German and French authorities are willing - at their own cost - to DNA-test a soldier based on good paperwork evidence that shows a good possibility that he is identifiable. The negative impact of JPAC's absurd policy on families is very real. There is a very real battle between JPAC and the families, and the families have been losing for the last 30 years.

    January 2014 - Stars & Stripes Feature Story:
    "Internal memo alleges JPAC ethics violations, mishandling of military remains"
    Senators McCaskill and Ayotte Urge DoD Secretary Hagel to Take Aggressive Action

    CIL, the Central Identification Laboratory, has projected an image of being the best scientific place in the world for recovery and identification of remains. Cloaked behind an impenetrable veil, they have claimed that no other methods but theirs can be trusted, since their standards are so high. But the reality turns out to be yet another sham. A 2011 internal memo scathingly lays open the truth: malfeasance, failure, and worse. And it has all been covered up for years by "abuses of the US Government Merit System to control pesonnel and shield CIL archaeological work from outside review and internal scrutiny." JPAC's "contempt of outside review" was all too obvious when the guiding research principle of one recovery effort was explicitly stated by the leader to be proving wrong the conclusions of independent WWII researchers rather than seeking the truth of the situation. More and more the accumulation of reports seems to be pointing to one man in particular as the ultimate source of all the problems: the name of Dr. Thomas Holland, director and deputy to the command for Central Identification Laboratory operations, keeps coming up, as does Johnie Webb, JPAC’s deputy to the commander for external relations and legislative affairs. And Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are both very upset by the continuing revelations of JPAC and CIL conduct.

    February 2014 - Three Major Events
    February 18 - CBS News "Pentagon Agency Slow to ID/Return Remains of America's Fallen" -- 4:04 video

    "Lt. Robert Fenstermacher's remains were found by a private charity called History Flight. Mark Noah is its founder. ... In 2013, he turned over 50 American remains from World War II found on the Pacific island of Tarawa. A JPAC team sent there three years earlier recovered three. ... Deno Zazzetti's brother Joe died fighting on Tarawa in 1943. "I'm bitter. I'm upset. I'm upset with JPAC," Zazzetti said. "You can't get the answers from the people that you think should have the answers. With Mark Noah, I get some answers and I know he's trying and I know he's accomplished something.""

    February 20 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Orders New Priorities and Structure for Accounting for Missing Personnel

    "After intensive review, I have determined that the Department of Defense must change the way it manages accounting for personnel missing from past conflicts. I have directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to provide me, within 30 days, a plan for how to organize the Department most effectively to increase to the maximum extent possible the numbers of missing Service personnel accounted for annually while ensuring timely and accurate information is provided to their families.

    "This plan should address organizational and process changes required to consolidate all Departmental assets into a single, accountable entity that has oversight of all personnel accounting resources, research, and operations across the Department. It should propose methods to maximize the number of identifications, improve transparency for families, reduce duplicative functions, and establish a system for centralized, complete, fully accessible personnel case files for missing personnel."

    Note that the new first priority is identification. Up until now, the priority has been recovery. So there is finally some basis for hope that the WWII Unknowns will be given the priority that has been completely denied to them until now. But the proof of the commitment to these new priorities is yet to be seen. And the track record of the management that has been in place is extremely poor on this. Will the ones who caused the problems be removed? If not, the reality is likely to be more of the same old way, under yet another illusionary sham guise like those that have been the reality until now.

    February 24/25 - Stars and Stripes "French lab identifies remains of WWII GI: Nephew criticizes DOD agency for not acting to exhume, test body"
    7th Armd Div Patch

    ""... this case does not meet the criteria set by DoD Policy for disinterment ..." Johnnie Webb, JPAC's deputy to the commander for external relations and legislative affairs, wrote ..."

    "... the next step is to have the results verified at the University of Wisconsin ... to show that JPAC isn't the only organization capable of bringing a missing service member home."

    ""... this was accomplished by four volunteer researchers/historians in their spare time ... all expenses have been paid for exclusively by the Gordon family and our volunteer research team. We estimate the total cost of this endeavor from start to finish will cost less than $25,000. ..." Currently, JPAC averages more than $1 million in annual budget per ID."

    [Jed Henry, lead researcher]""It is truly sad that the greatest country in the world does not even remotely come close to living up to the rhetoric that it dissemniates to the American public about leaving no soldier behind.""

    "Lawrence Gordon [Canadian lawyer namesake nephew of the recovered soldier] said they got lucky that his uncle's remains were out of JPAC's reach. That is the only reason they were successful. "A grade one child has a greater moral compass," he said of the American accounting agencies. "Thank God Uncle Lawrence was not in their system.""

    Additional February Articles on the Scandals and Failures

    March 2014 - "Failing the Fallen"

    Multiple articles, covering a specific case of a probable-identification which JPAC refuses to DNA test. As shown in the reports above in prior months, this is far from the only such case. And there are in fact some 8,500 families whose soldiers are being similarly ignored. While one article's subtitle cites the military as leaving men behind, it is our government that is doing so, and we should not be focusing on the military as the problem. Similarly, it is not the staff of the accounting agencies that are the problem: they are intensely committed to doing the right thing. New management is needed - management that is willing to put the families first and be truly accountable to them.

    Several other important articles this month also dealt with the failure to identify the WWII Unknowns. Note that while these articles were reprinted by various news outlets, I have tried to include only the original publication site.

    March 31, 2014 - "Hagel Orders Overhaul of POW/MIA Identification Agencies"

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the overhaul of the POW/MIA identification agencies, streamlining them into a single agency. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michael Lumpkin, provided more specifics.

  • Lumpkin told reporters it had become clear that the department needed a “paradigm shift” from what some have called “outdated, institutionalized thinking and behavior that didn’t deliver the number of remains accounted for that we had hoped.”
  • In addition, he said, proposals will be developed for expanding partnerships with private organizations already working to recover and identify remains to “fully embrace progressive science.”
  • No date has been set for when the new agency will be stood up, but the undersecretary said it would be led by a civilian appointed by the president.

    There is considerable ground for hope that the WWII Unknowns may finally be identified. The details -- of personnel, organization and policy -- are eagerly awaited. Here are relevant DoD links.

    Here are news media links, including more details of what Michael Lumpkin said.

    • ProPublica "Pentagon Overhauls Effort to Identify its Missing" - quotes below from the article
      • Using a DNA-led process is “absolutely something we’re going to move toward,” Lumpkin said. The Pentagon will “break away from the way of traditionally doing business...that didn’t fully embrace progressive science,” he said.
      • ProPublica and NPR also reported that under Holland’s leadership the lab rejected 96 percent of potential disinterments of unknown servicemembers, despite DNA advances that could help lead to their identification. Lumpkin said that policy will be changed, though he had no specifics.
      • The Pentagon is also considering a national campaign to collect DNA samples from family members of the missing.
      • “We’re now taking concrete, enforceable steps to fix what has been a management mess—but as with any effort to demand accountability, the devil will be in the details and the implementation,” Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement. “So we’re looking forward to working with the Pentagon to ensure the families of our missing heroes receive nothing less than honesty and transparency in our efforts to recover their loved ones.”
    • NPR "Hoping To Slim POW-MIA Bureaucracy, Hagel Makes One Out Of Two" - 3:54 audio
    • NBC News "Pentagon Reorganizes Effort to ID MIAs after NBC News Series" - bullets below are from the article
      • A new approach to disinterments is possible.
      • Cooperation with outside agencies will be encouraged. JPAC has resisted working with nonprofits and individuals who search for military crash sites. "Why wouldn't we leverage their good work?" Lumpkin said.
      • The process could become one more led by DNA, with DNA matching being used to start the process of identification, instead of being used only as a confirmation for more laborious methods. Work with university labs specializing in DNA matching is possible.
      • Families of the missing may be more actively encouraged to submit DNA samples as part of a search for matches, not just for confirmation.
      • The agency's Central Identification Lab in Hawaii will no longer exist as an entity, but the laboratory function there could remain, and could have the same leadership on site. Those decisions haven't been made.
    • Army Times "Hagel orders overhaul of remains recovery mission"
    • Stars and Stripes "Hagel announces restructuring of POW/MIA remains offices"
    • Honolulu Star Advertiser "Hagel announces changes to POW/MIA accounting command"

  • April 2014 - Scientific Proof that Positive DNA-Led Identification Works with WWII Remains

    The U. S. Accounting effort has told families that positive matching nuclear DNA degrades too rapidly for use with WWII remains, so that only weak exclusionary mitochondrial DNA testing is a viable option -- and then only when they feel sure that they already know what the DNA test results will show. But for more than 15 years, very strong positive DNA matching with nuclear DNA has identified those in mass graves from Bosnia to Argentina. And this DNA-led method begins with disinterring and DNA-testing of the remains as the first step. On April 7, the private Bode Technology laboratory proved that nuclear DNA can be obtained from WWII remains -- and can be done rapidly and inexpensively. Remains of PFC Lawrence Gordon, 3rd Armored Division, were tested by Bode. Within 8 working days, they had obtained positive identification with nuclear DNA fromt the remains. During this same period they also confirmed the mitochondrial DNA identification that the French national crime lab had achieved. And Bode did this as one of only 20 cases that they were working on that week.

    All of the excuses put forward about how this could not be done are now shown to be undeniably wrong ... nothing more than a pseudo-scientific smoke screen for doing nothing to identify the WWII Unknowns. There is no longer any excuse for continuing the 60 years of ignoring the WWII Unknowns. Their families have been waiting in line since WWII, some of them going to their graves, troubled by the failure to account for their soldier. The fact that these soldiers and their families have been ignored for so many decades does not diminish the reality of the anguish of the families as they have waited all these many many years, waiting for someone to finally do what is right rather than just giving lip service to "no man left behind".

    There simply is no longer any viable reason for making these families wait any longer. The waiting and anguish must end. The means are there to end it. So it is time to use those means and to remove those who for so long have obstructed their implementation -- all while claiming to be acting in the best interests of the families whose anguish they have in fact perpetuated and whose actual wishes they have obstructed.

    Other April reports ...

    May 2014 - Independent POW-MIA Awareness Conference / Veterans Ride to DC re JPAC / Senate Approves Accounting Restructuring

    Family associations and independent MIA researchers from most past conflicts held a POW-MIA Awareness Conference at the National Press Club on May 23. On the same day, the Senate Armed Service Committee approved the combining of all past-conflict accounting into a single agency. Veterans began a ride from Rancho Cucamonga, CA to Washington, DC, to honor PFC Lawrence Gordon, recently identifed after having been turned over to the Germans as a German soldier, and also to raise awareness of problems with JPAC.

    June 2014 - Military relents, takes World War II soldier off MIA list

    How Can I Help?

    At the 2013 7th Armored Division Reunion, some family members wanted to know how they could help to address the failure of the accounting community, particularly in regard to their failure to use modern technology such as DNA to identify the 8,500 or so WWII Unknowns. While we are not taking action as an organization, individual members can contact their Representative and Senators to voice their concern. Click here for the web page about how you can help.

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