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The two 2005 JPAC teams returned to Hickam in late spring. RT-1 (Recovery Team 1) had recovered remains from the Avenger site on Peleliu, but not from the Corsair site in Ngeremlengui.

Although RT-2 recovered some remains from the underwater B-24 site near Aimeliik, the team decided to suspend operations there when a portion of the wreckage became sufficiently unstable to represent a potential danger to the recovery divers. They hope to return next year, after designing a way to stabilize the wreckage enough to permit the recovery effort to continue safely.

On 23 May 2005, a repatriation ceremony was held at the Palau International Airport, in honor of remains recovered from the B-24 by JPAC's RT-2. Pat Scannon was invited to attend, and to return to Hickam on the Air Force C-17 that carried those remains back to American soil after over 60 years. He's written a detailed report of the trip to Palau, the repatriation ceremony, and the return of the MIA airman's remains to America. Here's the report.

Another repatriation ceremony, conducted by PACOM, was held on 24 June 2005 at Hickam AFB in Honolulu (here's a video report on that ceremony, produced by JPAC). The ceremony acknowledged the return to American soil of remains of American service members who were formerly listed as MIA, and the beginning of the process of identifying those remains. Acknowledged in the ceremony were remains brought back to American soil from Palau by this year's two JPAC recovery teams.

If there's any question in your mind about why we do this, the following photos from the repatriation ceremony at Hickam come as close as anything I've seen to explaining it:


C-130 on the ramp at Hickam AFB, 24 June 2005. © Reid Joyce 2005


Transfer cases containing remains of American MIAs from Palau,
Laos, China, and North Korea. © Reid Joyce 2005


Precious cargo. © Reid Joyce 2005


Almost home. © Reid Joyce 2005


Welcome home! © Reid Joyce 2005

The process of identifying remains back at JPAC's world-famous forensic lab in Hawaii can be a long and technically challenging process — and it's not always successful. We'll keep you posted as that process continues, and if and when JPAC is able to formally report on the results of their analyses.