Personal Effects Provide Clues in Search for Missing WWII Airmen

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A 25-member team from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is in the Normandy region of France searching for three missing airmen whose C-47A aircraft was presumably shot down by German anti-aircraft fire on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Air Force Master Sgt. Raul Castillo, the team’s lead support investigator, or LSI, works closely with the scientific recovery expert, or SRE, to examine all objects that the team screens from the soil at the scene of the crash. 

While the SRE looks for bone fragments, the LSI is primarily looking to identify uniforms and other clothing, navigation protractors and personal effects like watches, rings and so on. Life-support equipment is also important in helping to identify any remains nearby. This equipment could be life preservers, life rafts, parachutes, oxygen masks and things of that nature, he said. 

The reason Castillo was selected to be the team’s LSI is because his Air Force job for 19 years has been aircrew flight equipment specialist, and, as such, he’s familiar with equipment that the aircrew would use.  

Before the trip, he said that he had to familiarize himself with the gear they used during World War II because it’s no longer in the Defense Department’s inventory. 

Not only is Castillo familiar with aircrew equipment, he said he’s also used it. For instance, he packs his own parachute and has jumped with it on many occasions. 

This is Castillo’s second recovery mission. His first was to Laos last summer. 

Along with remains, all of the personal gear that Castillo and others find will eventually be flown to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where there’s a DPAA laboratory with scientists who have advanced equipment that can determine a person’s identity. 

“It’s a real honor being here on this recovery mission. It’s a humbling experience, and I’m happy to help bring the full accounting of the missing to their families,” he said. 

The El Paso, Texas, native is married, and the couple have a 3-year-old daughter and a dog that’s a husky-German shepherd mix. 

Castillo said one of the best decisions he made was joining the Air Force and getting him out of his “bad environment” in El Paso.

The original post of this article was published on this site - RLTW

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