Over 81,000 American Service Members Have Been Lost In Action, And These Amazing People Are Searching To Bring Them Home

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During World War II and other conflicts, over 81,500 American service members were lost in action, and their bodies were never found. For more than 30 years, a collaborative initiative called Project Recover has been leading the search for their remains.

In 2012, the project combined efforts with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of Delaware. The project also partnered up with the Legion Underseas Service and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

So far, Project Recover has completed over 75 missions in 21 different countries in both land and underwater environments. They have accounted for approximately 80 missing-in-action members of the armed forces and have brought home a total of 17 American heroes.

Advanced technology, such as sonar, drones, and underwater robotics, are used to locate the wreckage of ships, aircraft, and other military equipment. Once potential sites have been discovered, they conduct investigations.

Project Recover’s mission serves as a tribute to the sacrifices that service members have made in order to protect the country. It also gives closure to the families by enabling the recovery and proper burial of their loved ones. There are an estimated five million MIA Gold Star family members.

The project was able to account for one service member, AOM1c Anthony Di Petta, on January 3, 2023. Di Petta was an ordnanceman on a TBM-1c Avenger. In 1944, a crew from the USS Enterprise launched an attack near Malakal Harbor in Palau.

There were 15 other aircraft carriers from Task Force 38 alongside the USS Enterprise. They had been conducting pre-invasion strikes on Palau. The Avenger ended up crashing in the water of Malakal Harbor.

Di Petta was declared Missing in Action. He was born in Italy but emigrated to the United States in 1921. By 1940, he enlisted in the Navy from New Jersey and served as an Ordnanceman on the Avenger. He was survived by his mother, father, and two siblings.

In 2015, Project Recover identified the Avenger in the waters of Palau. At first, they thought the aircraft was a Helldiver because of the poor visibility in the water.

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