Family Members of Missing Service Members Meet With DOD in Dallas

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More than 200 families from Texas and nearby states met in Dallas Saturday to get updates about loved ones who remain unaccounted for decades after dying in the service of their country.

It’s part of a mission the Department of Defense launched years ago with its POW/MIA Accounting Agency, focused on bringing everyone home.

Heather O’Kane was among those who attended Saturday. Her great uncle Beauron O’Kane served in the Navy during World War II.

“He was 19 when he passed away. It's been 78 years,” said Heather O’Kane.

As a gunner in the Navy, Beauron and 11 other crew members were gunned down during a secret mission over Singapore.

To this day, they remain missing.

“My grandmother's 91, and she's the last living family member that knew him personally. Getting to have that closure for her would just mean so much to our family,” she said.

Beauron O’Kane is one of 81,000 American service members who died in service and never recovered.

“It's very complicated. Many of these missing have been gone for 80 years in the case of World War II. It begins with historical analysis and research, transitioning to hopefully a field recovery, and then hopefully an identification forensically in one of two laboratories,” said DPAA Director Kelly McKeague.

Saturday, the DPAA updated families on their loved ones’ cases and shared the stories of service members who were recently accounted for.

They also collected DNA samples to help identify those found through future recovery missions.

“We are one of the few countries that do this. It defines us as a country that here we are decades later, still searching, still finding simply because we have a sacred obligation that these men and women sacrifice their lives for our freedoms today, that we owe it to them and their families that if we can do anything humanly possible to bring them home, it's our responsibility, our moral imperative,” said McKeague.

O’Kane says after years of meeting with the DPAA, she’s hopeful her family will have a resolution soon.

“We're in constant communication with them. We have family meetings with them. Once or twice a year, we also email them about updates. They've been really great,” she said.

There are currently 4,124 unaccounted-for Texans who served from World War II to the present day.

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