Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Locate MIA US Airman

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This article originally appeared on our sister site, Freethink.

The remains of an American aviator killed in the Vietnam War have finally been brought home, thanks to Project Recover, an initiative using 21st century technology to locate missing soldiers.

The challenge: Most US servicemen return home unharmed after serving, but some are killed and others are missing.

The soldiers may have deserted or been captured, killed or wounded, but their status is unknown, and it’s impossible to say for sure what happened – and it can leave their families in a state of emotional limbo.

Project recovery: Since World War II, the military has reported nearly 82,000 people missing. The goal of Project Recover is to end the families of these soldiers by locating their remains or clues to what happened to them, such as a downed plane.

“It was an honor to participate.

ANDREW PIETRUSZKA

To date, he has located more than 50 planes associated with more than 170 missing soldiers.

On August 2, the group reported their latest success: the recovery of the remains of U.S. Air Force Major Paul A. Avolese.

The details: Avolese was on a mission over the South China Sea in 1967 when his plane collided with another aircraft. Seven of the 10 soldiers involved in the crash were rescued, but Avolese was one of three not.

In 2020, the U.S. Army Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency asked Project Recover to try to locate the wreckage of the two planes.

Using a fleet of 100 autonomous underwater vehicles equipped with sonar, the group surveyed approximately 8 square miles of seabed near the alleged resting place of the planes. Divers were then dispatched to investigate several sites, and Avolese’s remains were discovered at one of them.

Not anymore missing in action: The remains were sent to Hawaii for official identification. After that, they were returned to Avolese’s family, and he was buried with full military honors.

“It was an honor to participate in the first-ever partner survey for underwater MIA sites in Vietnam,” Andrew Pietruszka, chief archaeologist of Project Recover, said in a press release.

“Managing to locate the site and recover the remains of Major Avolese was incredible,” he continued. “It’s a testament to what can be accomplished with public-private partnerships.”

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