Texas Families Gather in Dallas to Receive Updates on Missing Military Loved Ones

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For those who volunteer to serve and protect the United States, commitment comes with a guarantee, no one is left behind.

But when it comes to the fallen, recovery is just one step.

Identifying those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice is no easy task. That’s why this weekend in Dallas, the Department of Defense will provide updates to Texans about loved ones who remain unaccounted for years after dying in the service of their country.

Saturday, more than 500 family members will gather at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria.

“It’s an opportunity for family members of POWs and MIAs to come from across 350 miles, and even further, for information on what the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is doing currently, different updates on techniques, and various events and missions that we’re doing,” said United States Army Public Affairs Officer Leah Ganoni.

Across World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Cold War, more than 81,500 American service members remain unaccounted for.

“The families are why we do what we do. Providing them the fullest possible accounting is DPAA’s mission. But more importantly, the families that have lost a loved one in service are owed those answers, and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Ganoni.

Saturday, some will be swabbed for DNA.

“When we deal with our missing from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, we don’t have the ability to get a direct DNA reference from the missing. So to do that, we actually have to rely on family references,” said Director of DNA Operations Timothy McMahon.

It’s an effort McMahon said has been underway since the early 90s. Over time, technological advances have helped make discoveries once thought impossible.

“A number of the samples that we do test are actually more damaged than 40,000-year-old neanderthal DNA. We’re constantly bringing on new technology and all of that is to keep our success rates high and to support the DPAA with bringing our fallen heroes home,” he said.

Recently, those efforts helped to solve the 80-year mystery of a Dallas man, Second Lieutenant David Lewis.

While serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, Lewis and nine other crew members were shot down in Romania.

Lewis was buried as an unknown soldier. But in 2017, his remains were exhumed and the DOD brought them home for DNA testing.

Two family members came back as a match. Later this year, loved ones will finally lay him to rest.

It’s closure, the DOD hopes to eventually provide to all who’ve served.

“We owe it to them to provide them the most answers possible,” said Ganoni.

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

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