DPAA Ceremony Honors American Servicemen: Solomon Islands Repatriation, 2016 (August 7, 2016)

Honiara, Solomon Islands: The Government of the United States of America hosted a repatriation ceremony for the remains of servicemen killed in action in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The remains will be returned to the United States. The remains were found during a recent mission carried out by the U.S. Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Accounting Agency (DPAA). The brief ceremony paid tribute to the valor of those lost and underlined how their sacrifice had led to enduring ties between the people of the United States and the Solomon Islands.

Representatives from foreign diplomatic missions, U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray, U.S. Consular Agent Keithie Saunders, and Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Milner Tozaka participated in the event at Henderson Field.

The ceremony follows a successful mission conducted bymembers of the DPAA Team that focused investigative andrecovery efforts at land sites within the Solomon Islands onGuadalcanal and the outer islands of Western province inan effort to achieve the fullest possible accounting of U.S. service members lost as a result of operations conductedduring the Second World War.

The DPAA Team was accompanied by Royal SolomonIslands Police Force (RSIPF) officers. During the mission,the DPAA Team worked closely with the SolomonIslands Government and local authorities to ensure fullunderstanding of the mission and mutual cooperationbetween all parties.

Ambassador Ebert-Gray paid tribute to those who had fallen. She said, “Today, we honor colleagues who died far from home and whom we never knew. We honor them so that they and their families and all Americans know how deeply we appreciate their sacrifices. At a time when our country continues to send its sons and daughters to the far corners of the Earth, our gathering here today in honor of our fallen colleagues is a poignant reminder of their sacrifices.”

The Ambassador emphasized that the United States is committed to DPAA’s mission. She thanked those who attended the repatriation ceremony and praised the excellent cooperation the Mission received from the Government of the Solomon Islands, the nation’s National Museum, and the Solomon Islands people.

 The United States remains committed to achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans lost during the Second World War. DPAA conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the U.S. Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts. In order to ensure mission success and the return of unaccounted-for Americans, DPAA routinely engages in technical negotiations and talks with representatives of foreign governments to promote and maintain positive in-country conditions wherever DPAA teams deploy. DPAA works closely with host nation officials and local or regional government representatives during all investigative and recovery missions. The cooperation and joint efforts of organizations like the National Museum of Solomon Islands are essential for DPAA to accomplish its mission.