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Medicine in Uniform
September 15, 1999

No More Unknown Soldiers

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JAMA. 1999;282(11):1027. doi:10.1001/jama.282.11.1027-JMU91002-2-1

On September 17, which is National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Day, DOD Secretary William S. Cohen will dedicate a new inscription on the Vietnam crypt of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. It will read: "Honoring and keeping faith with America's missing servicemen."

The crypt has been empty for 16 months, since the remains interred there were identified through mitochondrial DNA testing as those of US Air Force pilot Michael Blassie. Now, although more than 2000 US service members still are missing after the fighting in Southeast Asia, military physicians say scientific advances should allow identification of any remains found. So there probably never again will be a symbolic unidentified US casualty of that strife to inter with the unknown soldiers of World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict.