Clarise Soper, Certified Genealogist, and Jason Dawsey, PhD, joined The National WWII Museum in its partnership with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). DPAA’s mission is to offer “the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation.” The Agency’s teams locate, identify, and, if possible, repatriate the remains of fallen service members from America’s past conflicts.
Soper, DPAA Genealogist in Residence, prepares the servicemember’s lineage in order to determine the current primary and secondary next of kin and family DNA donors to aid in the identification of remains. Direct communication with families is central to her work.
Dawsey, DPAA Special Projects Historian in Residence, conducts research that provides both historical background to the Agency’s investigations of missing personnel and assists with specific MIA cases. To do this, he utilizes many different source materials including personnel files of the deceased, interviews with veterans, unit histories, diaries left by service members, memoirs, photographs, maps, and combat reports.
Several times a year the Agency holds meetings across America to provide the latest information from senior officials and scientists, amongst others. These meetings are designed to address the individual needs of the family members while bringing information to their communities. The Department of Defense has met with over 17,000 family members since 1995. Additionally, there are two annual briefings held in Washington, DC; one for Vietnam War families and the other for Korean and Cold War families. Family members can meet with civilian and military personnel who specialize in foreign government negotiations, DNA science, archival research as well as remains recovery and identification. It is important that the public and family members know there is information available to them now and in the future.
There are over 70,000 service members still unaccounted for from the World War II. It is our hope that the work we contribute to DPAA mission brings a measure of comfort to the families and stresses the significance of the American experience during World War II to the general public. We are honored to be part of this endeavor.