Finding the fallen

During World War II, more than 2,000 American pilots and crew members were lost over Papua New Guinea. Now a Pentagon team is trying to bring them home.

DAY 1

George Eyster
Army Major George Eyster (left) led a team to Papua New Guinea in search of two World War II fighter pilots who went missing more than 60 years ago.
(By Bryan Bender and Kevin Baron, Globe Staff and Correspondent)
PHOTO GALLERY Scenes from the recovery mission
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Gill Thorpe

In search of closure

Even after six decades, Gill Thorpe of North Kingstown, R.I., remains haunted by his brother's disappearance over the South Pacific.
Recovering the past
VIDEO

Recovering the past

As recovery teams unearth remains, families await word a world away.
McCown's last flight
Interactive graphic

McCown's last flight

Follow the path Capt. Marion R. McCown took on his final bombing run.
A day in paradise
PHOTO GALLERIES

A day in paradise

Little Pigeon Island in Blanche Bay offered a respite from strenuous recovery work.
The caves of WWII

DAY 2

A search for the past
Spurred by a first-hand knowledge of the horrors of war, recovery leaders like George Eyster (left), make it their mission to bring home MIAs who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. (By Bryan Bender and Kevin Baron, Globe Staff and Correspondent)
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Bones can reveal family secrets

Bones can reveal family secrets

Identifying the remains of soldiers with DNA carries a thorny byproduct -- the potential to uncover false paternity cases.
DNA lab unlocks secrets of identity
WEB EXCLUSIVE

DNA lab unlocks secrets of identity

Anthropologists at a Hawaii laboratory are using cutting-edge technology to identify the remains of servicemen.

DAY 3

The signatures of four women scratched into a plane wreck on Papua New Guinea offered a reminder of the generation of females who flocked to factories during World War II. The names also left a trail of stories back to Tuscon, Ariz. (By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff)
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Answering her call to duty
VIDEO

Answering her
call to duty

Frances Millbrandt, 93, of Tuscon, Ariz., helped build planes for World War II.

The MIA Project

What is it?
The Pentagon launched the mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) on Oct. 1, 2003, to recover the remains of tens of thousands of MIAs from foreign wars. The organization, which identifies six missing servicemen each month on average, utilizes the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world and 15 teams that travel the globe on recovery missions. This is the story of one such recovery mission in Papua New Guinea.
Where is it?
Papua New Guinea
The Players
Meet The JPAC recovery team
Scroll through a gallery to learn more about the members of the recovery team that performed the Papua New Guinea project.

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