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    The Solemn Promise

    Sicilian Recovery

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Seth Coulter | U.S. Army Spc. James Bozo, recovery team member, excavates a unit during the Defense...... read more read more

    There are a few things often said by the service members and civilians currently assigned to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), that always seem true. One, no single mission is ever the exact same even if it is to the same exact place. Two, pack for every season no matter where you go. Three, we could never do this alone.

    Missions are rarely comprised of only the individuals assigned to DPAA. Often, a majority of the team are hand selected contractors and service members and even though we come from different places our goal is singular. To recover missing personnel who are listed as POW, or MIA, from past wars and conflicts and from countries around the world and attempt to bring peace to the families that have waited so long for an answer.

    This team is currently searching for the remains of a pilot lost during the WWII Allied invasion of Sicily codenamed Operation Husky.

    “This is an amazing mission and if you talk to the people here I’m sure they will tell you how honored they are to do this,” said DPAA Deputy Director Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz. “This is not a short-term mission, there are many missing Americans all over the world and we are in this for the long haul.”

    The locations can vary from a base camp in the jungles of Vietnam or Laos, to staying at a hotel in Europe and commuting to wherever the site may be. Don’t expect a vacation though, the work can be exhausting and there are endless challenges to overcome along the way. From running into poisonous snakes along the path to the bathroom or trying to weatherproof your hut during a torrential downpour, there is almost nothing that goes exactly according to plan.

    However, by the end of the mission there is always a sense of accomplishment. When you look back at the very first place your team put a shovel in the ground it seems almost impossible how far you all have come in such a short amount of time.

    “It’s definitely a strange experience to stand back and see how different things are than the first day we came,” says U.S. Army Sgt. Diery Toledo, Recovery Team member. “On our last trip [we are given Sunday’s off and often travel to a different city] when we were walking around the town I thought how crazy it was to be here. I would have never come to this place otherwise!”

    For some this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A chance to not only work but live in a place few Americans would ever think about going. To push yourself out of your comfort zone and hopefully see a whole different way of life compared to what we have become so used to.

    The mission of the DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation until they are home.



    Date Taken: 06.07.2018
    Date Posted: 06.08.2018 17:49
    Story ID: 280106
    Location: IT

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