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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Why mission matters: MartinFederal to help DOD identify remains of unknown war dead

We hear a lot from executives about the importance of their customer’s mission and how that mission is at the heart of the business decisions they make.

I don’t doubt their sincerity, but every now and then a pitch or a press release comes across the wire that makes me say -- "Wow, that’s a mission."

In this case, it was a press release from Huntsville, Alabama-based MartinFederal Consulting. They have won a one-year contract to support the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency with a records management project.

For phase one, they will conduct a page-by-page inventory of Korean War Reference Documents. They will look for data points needed to create an index and preserve the documents for later digitization and research.

MartinFederal is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business and describes the mission of the DPAA as a “noble and worthy cause.” You don’t have to spend much more than a moment on the agency’s website to grasp how solemn their mission is.

DPAA is tasked with recovering, analyzing and identifying the remains of Americans killed in wars. Remains are unidentified until DPAA begins the work.

The agency's home page lists the names of soldiers and sailors killed or reported missing who have recently been identified, or “accounted for,” as they say on their website.

Top of the list today is Army Cpl. Robert C. Agard Jr., 19, who was reported missing on July 19, 1950 while conducting a night recon patrol near Taejon, South Korea. Agard was declared “non-recoverable” in 1956, but in 2015 he was moved into the category of “active pursuit.” On Sept. 29, 2020, he was declared accounted for.

Others on the list include sailors killed in the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing. The remains of many unidentified sailors were buried in graves in two cemeteries on Hawaii during World War II. But between June and November 2015, DPAA exhumed the graves of the unknowns and began using dental and anthropological analysis and Y-chromosome DNA analysis to identify the remains.

It is also sobering to look down the list and see the ages -- 18, 19, 20 years old. The oldest I saw was 25. So young.

We rarely write about contracts when there isn’t a dollar value attached to it. We are a business publication after all. But in this case, it’s worth making an exception to that practice.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 01, 2020 at 12:27 PM

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