"Same Same, but Different": Considerations and Approaches to Archaeology within the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

The recently formed Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has been assigned the task of providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel from past conflicts. This scope, which includes World War II through the end of the Vietnam War, represents approximately 83,000 missing U.S. service members associated with air, ground, and maritime losses that are worldwide in distribution. The accounting effort is conducted within a forensic anthropological context; however, considering the age of the individual loss events, which occurred approximately 40 to 75 years ago, archaeological methods play a critical role in the recovery and identification process. There are also differences in the considerations and objectives of DPAA archaeology versus those of academia and cultural resource management. The goal of this symposium is to provide a general introduction to the archaeology of the agency while exploring some of the agency-specific considerations of method and theory in actual practice.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-12 of 12)

  • Documents (12)

  • Artifact or Evidence? The Role of Material Culture at War-Related Forensic Recovery Scenes (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sabrina Ta'ala.

    Artifact collection and analysis is a foundation of all archaeological research, and the methods used to record and draw meaning from the material culture we encounter on archaeological sites are generally standardized across subdisciplines.  But field decisions about what to keep, what to disregard, and how to record and quantify it all are invariably informed, to some extent, by our research goals.  When it comes to war-related sites excavated by U.S. Department of Defense teams with the...

  • A Birds Eye View of War: The Role of Historic Maps and Aerial-Based Imagery in the Archaeological investigation of Unaccounted-For U.S. military Personnel. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jason W Bush.

    As "snapshot" documents of the past, historical maps, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery are a valuable source for the archaeological investigation of major conflicts throughout the past eight decades.  Although many of these documents were initially acquired and then maintained in secret in the context of major conflict or clandestine purposes, decades later they are proving to be of much benefit and unintended value for historical and archaeological research.  This paper will present an...

  • Challenging Aircraft Crash Sites: Excavating Deep and Wide (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Penny D Minturn.

    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is tasked with the recovery of missing crew from aircraft crash sites around the world.  In many of these cases the excavation for the recovery of the aircraft requires a deep excavation.  Scientific methods utilized especially for deep excavation have been developed over the last 100 years of archaeological method and theory (most especially within the realm of Cultural Resource Management) and can be applied to the work at DPAA.  Whether the...

  • The Decisive Moment in Archaeology: Photography and the Loss, Recovery, and Repatriation of America’s Missing in Action (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jesse W. Stephen.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson’s concept of the decisive moment (1952) is one of the most enduring and debated ideas of photography. Defined as when "the visual and psychological elements of people in a real life scene spontaneously and briefly come together in perfect resonance to express the essence of [the] human situation" (Suler 2012, 372), the decisive moment has been explored and practiced extensively in the space of modern photojournalism. Less common is the exploration of the decisive moment in...

  • DPAA's Efforts to Address Unresolved U.S. Military Overwater and In-water Loss Incidents and Underwater Sites (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Piotr T. Bojakowski. Richard K. Wills.

    A significant portion of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)'s unresolved loss cases involve incidents that occurred over water, at sea, or otherwise within a body of water.  In the context of underwater forensic archaeology, addressing these cases require a complex process of historical and archival research; large-scale GIS analysis; investigation and correlation with known incidents; and site search, survey, and recovery activities to the extent possible.  The end goal is to recover...

  • Getting Them Home: Crossing the Borders, From Field to Lab (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Denise To.

    The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing service-personnel from past conflicts.  This mandate requires the transportation of biological materials, including human skeletal and dental remains, from archaeological field locations and unilateral turnovers to DPAA laboratory facilities in Hawaii and Nebraska.  DPAA archaeological investigation, survey, and excavation sites are located across the globe, and the movement of these materials oftentimes involves...

  • Landscapes of Battle and the Search for the Missing (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kimberly A {PhD} Maeyama. Megan E {PhD} Ingvoldstad.

    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is the governmental entity tasked with the investigation, recovery, identification, and accounting for U.S. military members that have gone missing during conflict, while in service. This effort follows stringent scientific archaeologically-based protocols and practices, proving some degree of success especially for the resolution of incidents involving single-event site types such as aircraft crashes or burials. The archaeologist faces a challenging,...

  • The Localization of Taphonomy: The Impacts of Physical Environments and the Memorialization Practices of Local Populations on Combat Loss Archaeological Sites (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mindy R. Simonson.

    The taphonomic processes that affect archaeological remains in a given location are some of the most significant factors to be taken into consideration when assessing the type and amount of information potentially recoverable from an archaeological site.  These processes vary widely based upon geographic region.  Human agency as a taphonomic process has similar geographically and culturally-based variability.  Through remembrance, memorialization, and commemoration, or lack thereof, to include...

  • Mind the Gap: The Evolution of Forensic Archaeology in Military Remains Recovery (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelley Esh.

    The Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is responsible for the recovery of U.S. servicemembers' remains from past conflicts.  This paper will briefly review the history of military remains recovery by the U.S. government, focusing on the personnel responsible for field recovery as well as the methods typically employed.  We will then explore the evolving role of archaeologists in the accounting community, and how this parallels the modern development of forensic archaeology as a distinct...

  • Offers You Can’t Refuse: An Overview Of DPAA’s Strategic Partnerships Initiative (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael R. Dolski.

    This presentation describes DPAA’s Strategic Partnerships program, which is a novel effort within DoD to leverage the resources and expertise of external sources. Partnership categories broadly include public-private partnerships (P3s), grants, cooperative agreements, voluntary arrangements, and even contracts. The intent is to expand or improve DPAA’s ability to account for the missing by selectively outsourcing some components of the overall workload. In addition, DPAA pursues initiatives that...

  • Prediction of Human Remains Distribution within WWII Bombardment Aircraft Crash Sites (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Owen L O'Leary.

    Examination of eight WWII bombardment aircraft loss incidents previously resolved by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has allowed for the creation of a model that predicts where human remains can be expected to be recovered from within a crash scene based upon each crew member’s duty station. This paper details where each individual was found in relation to the aircraft wreckage at the crash sites, including those criteria for a case to be included in the model and how hypotheses...

  • Survival Compasses, Parachutes, LPUs, and More: Life Support as Material Evidence (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dane T. Magoon.

    Like any type of archaeologically recovered material culture, the debris found at an aircraft crash site can be classified in a myriad of ways, potentially focused upon shape, function, material, and/or interpretive value for the specific research questions at hand.  While DPAA archaeology is informed by the broader patterns of archaeological interpretation and analysis, the focus of a DPAA crash site investigation or recovery effort is upon a singular event, such as the loss of an individual...