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Report of Investigation: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Interactions with Family Members of Corporal Joseph Hargrove, U.S. Marine Corps

DODIG-2018-061

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Body - (RIB)

We determined that DPAA has not recovered Corporal Hargrove’s remains. DPAA excavated four sets of Asian remains from Koh Tang in 2008. These remains did not include remains from an “unaccounted-for” Service member. Three individuals who participated in excavating the four sets of remains and one individual who observed the excavation told us that all four sets of remains were Asian. Additionally, three forensic anthropologists told us that all four sets of remains were Asian and that DPAA personnel knew the remains were Asian even before deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) tests were completed.5 Forensic anthropology reports and DNA tests confirmed that the four sets of remains were Asian. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) compared the DNA sequences of each of the four sets of remains with family DNA samples, including Corporal Hargrove’s. None of the four sets of remains’ DNA sequence matched any family DNA sample.

Findings

We determined that DPAA has not recovered Corporal Hargrove’s remains. DPAA excavated four sets of Asian remains from Koh Tang in 2008. These remains did not include remains from an “unaccounted-for” Service member. Three individuals who participated in excavating the four sets of remains and one individual who observed the excavation told us that all four sets of remains were Asian. Additionally, three forensic anthropologists told us that all four sets of remains were Asian and that DPAA personnel knew the remains were Asian even before deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) tests were completed. Forensic anthropology reports and DNA tests confirmed that the four sets of remains were Asian. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) compared the DNA sequences of each of the four sets of remains with family DNA samples, including Corporal Hargrove’s. None of the four sets of remains’ DNA sequence matched any family DNA sample

Additionally, during the 2008 recovery mission, DPAA received a flak vest and four bone fragments from Cambodian military personnel stationed on Koh Tang. DPAA determined that the flak vest was a U.S. Marine Corps issued flak vest but could not associate the flak vest to any specific individual. DPAA identified the four bone fragments as additional portions of two Service members who DPAA previously accounted for in June 2000.

We concluded that DPAA did not lie about recovering Corporal Hargrove’s remains. During the 2008 recovery mission on Koh Tang, DPAA excavated four sets of Asian remains and received bone fragments that were later identified as additional portions of Service members DPAA accounted for in June 2000. A repatriation ceremony was held in Phnom Penh on March 1, 2008, just prior to the recovery team returning to the DPAA laboratory in Hawaii. This ceremony was appropriate given that DPAA was transporting additional portions of two previously accounted-for U.S. Service members. This ceremony was not for Corporal Hargrove or for any of the four sets of Asian remains.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: DPAA should fully implement a case management system (CMS) by January 2019.

 

Recommendation 2: DPAA should ensure all personnel working on cases have access to all relevant information and reports.

 

Recommendation 3: DPAA should implement a process to require employees to coordinate and share case information throughout the organization.

 

Recommendation 4: DPAA, in conjunction with service casualty officers, should implement a process to ensure questions and concerns from family members are adequately addressed and documented.