Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nebraska Anthropologist , Volume 29: 2021, pp 70-72


©2021 University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s AnthroGroup


A book with a story, history and emotion that encompasses the story of multiple United States military personnel and their families. I first heard of this book after attending a lecture by Dr. Sarah Wagner (Georgetown University) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in January of 2020. In her lecture, she spoke about the publication by telling the story of Lance Corporal Merlin Raye Allen who was Killed-in-Action and his body was not recovered for over four decades. While this book focuses on Lance Corporal Allen, he is just one of many discussed within these pages. This story is more than just history of how the remains of these lost heroes were discovered and excavated. The book tells the story of how people in the United States feel about Military remains being labeled Missing-in-Action (MIA) or Killed-in-Action and Body-Not-Recovered (KIA BNR). This book also takes into account the feelings of the families and the different organizations that assisted in recovering their loved ones and bringing them home. The book is composed of eight primary chapters with three subchapters. Each subchapter looks at events that happened in one particular year; 1967, 1970 and 2018. The publication begins by discussing the importance of retrieving the remains. It also takes the reader into the process of what considerations have to be taken into account. Some of these considerations include honoring the wishes of the fallen hero, the considerations of what the families want, and how to honor the hero. The middle of the book is split into different parts, one part is the recovery process with Dr. Freas. The second part describes how the process of identification takes place through forensic anthropology. Lastly, the third part explains what expectations are held by the public and by the professionals/government. The final chapters focus on the family’s stories and what their role is in obtaining the remains, processing the loss, and the ultimate internment of the remains.

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