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Central Identification Labratory Hawaii (CILHI)
Missing In Action (MIA) Conference, Port Moresby

Airways Hotel, Port Moresby April 10-12, 2001

The U. S. military is taking extra initiative to resolve Pacific MIA cases. Bolstered by a spate of recent successes in the Pacific, especially the recovery of U. S. airmen from World War II, mainly from the Fifth Air Force in Papua New Guinea, the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI) held a conference in Port Moresby from 10 - 12 April 2001 to which they invited the who's who of Pacific wartime archaeology and history. Also included were a contingent from the Royal Australian Air Force who have proven credentials and expertise in this field.

It was clear from the conference that CILHI has a difficult and challenging task ahead of them. Their past record inspires a determination to bring home lost US soldiers and airmen however. Resolve is not a quality which CILHI lacks, and their recovery work to date has been marked by meticulous recoveries, taking considerable time and resources. CILHI will be expanding its PNG program significantly in the next few years, working closely with many of the above authorities and experts.

The conference was a remarkable success. In their vision to assemble a panel of world-wide experts, CILHI both learned and imparted invaluable information about tracing the lost airmen of WWII in this hostile theater. Major points covered included:

  • The paucity of certain WWII US records for a multitude of reasons; difficulty in identifying wrecks
  • The need to correlate a comprehensive wreck data base
    (made difficult by the thousands of unidentified wrecks in PNG);
  • The irretrievable loss of evidence at wreck sites when unauthorized people
    destroy them by foraging for human remains or aircraft parts;
  • The reality that underwater wrecks can still contain human remains as proved by the recent retrieval of remains from a recent RAAF Beaufort wreck
  • Forensic techniques in identifying human remains

The conference included the following attendees (by alphabetical surname):

Nick Araho  
PNG National Museum, archaeologist
Col Michael Baier  
U. S. Embassy Defense Attaché
CILHI Forward Contingent
Lt-Commander Matthew Blenkin  
Royal Australian Navy
Aerothentic Publications
Captain Howard Coe  
CILHI
Lt-Col John David  
Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF)
Wing Commander Lynton Dixon  
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
Resident of Port Moresby and wreck researcher
Denise Donlon  
Expert in Anatomy and Histology
PNG National Museum, senior curator
Prof. J. G. C. Griffiths  
Oral Medicinal & Surgical Science
Colin Healy  
Technical Supervisor
Capt Drew Hovarth  
CILHI
Richard Huston  
Chief Casualty Data Officer, CILHI
Susan Jacobs  
U. S. Ambassador to PNG
PNG National Museum modern history curator
Herman Mandui  
PNG National Museum archaeology curator
Capt Jessie Massey  
CILHI
Jennifer Nasarenko  
Senior Policy Analyst, U. S. Secretary of Defense
Rachel Philips  
CILHI
Capt Tod Pingrey  
CILHI
Capt Daniel Rouse  
CILHI
Major Scott Thomas  
CILHI
Pacific Wrecks
Cheryl Udui  
CILHI
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

References
Post-Courier "Conference on recovery of WWII soldiers' remains" April 10, 2011

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