DoD promises to leave no soldier behind - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

DoD promises to leave no soldier behind

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Department of Defense is trying to keep a promise by leaving no servicemember behind. More than 83,000 American soldiers are still missing in action dating back to World War II. The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) meets about eight times a year with families giving them updates on their missing relatives.

On Saturday in Charlotte about 250 families, living within a 350 mile radius of the Queen City, showed up to hear what the government is doing to find their loved ones.

"I'd just like to have some accounting of him," David Stine said. "We know that he has been declared dead."

Stine's father went missing in 1966 in Vietnam.  His father was a pilot.

"Right now," Stine said. "There is no information on where about the plane might have disappeared."

The government provides one on one talks with family members. They give details on the progress.  Stine said the government may travel back to the area where his father's plane was last seen this summer to conduct more investigations.  He says finding his father would mean a lot to him.

"If anything is ever found," Stine said. "Of either the plane or his remains - that we have a ceremony, being able to bury him with my mother."

In addition to giving information, relatives are also asked to give DNA samples just in case.

"They do find remains from time to time," Quentin Webber said. "Whether it be bones or any kind of remains, they can still get a DNA sample."

The government uses hi-tech equipment to analyze remains. That work is done at the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. Webber showed up on Saturday to get information about his missing brother.

"It'd just be an honor," Webber said. "It would give me a chance to know what happened."

The families say they appreciate this service while current soldiers know the value of it.

"It's just an honor to know what the government is doing," Sgt. First Class Shelia Sledge said. "If I was lost or someone I served in a war - that they would do everything they could to bring us home."

There have been some recoveries.  Earlier this year DPMO found the remains of Pfc. James R. Holmes.  He went missing in North Korea back in 1950.  He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery this spring.

The government has been meeting with families since 1995.  They have touched more than 14,000 families. 

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