The best part of our projects is the good friendships we form with the people whose lives we touch. On our recent trip to Ireland, Andy and I visited with Maurice Conway and his family in Co. Limerick. Maurice provided the DNA match that confirmed that the remains found in the wreck of Northwest Flight 4422 were those of his distant cousin Francis Joseph van Zandt. During our time together, Maurice took us to the old Conway farm where Frank's mother Margaret Conway was born and grew up. We walked the road she walked with her sisters and brothers as they started from home for America. And of course we paid our respects at the Conway [...]
Our blog would not be complete without a mention of The Hand in the Snow. This was our first big military identification case with the Armed Forces DNA ID Laboratory, performed with a dream team of top forensic scientists. Our successful identification of the frozen arm and hand found in the Alaska glacier as belonging to crash victim Francis Joseph van Zandt was featured in 300 newspapers worldwide, and will be published as a feature article in Scientific American in the next few months.
Identifinders has been assisting History Flight and Missing Air Crew in their efforts to locate family references of MIAs for DNA identification. On July 24-28, U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia Peter A. Prahar travelled to Yap State to participate in the dedication ceremony of the Ensign Joseph E. Cox Memorial, named in honor of a U.S. naval pilot whose F6F-5 Hellcat fighter plane was shot down over Yap Island on September 6, 1944. Thanks to the efforts of Identifinders, members of the family of Howard Holding were present; Holding was killed during the same mission. Identifinders located his niece, Terri Trick, who with her brother Brent Jacob, traveled [...]
Our first success working with History Flight and Missing Air Crew was the location of the Jenny, the sister of Harry Brown, who was killed while flying his VF-20 F6F-5 Hellcat on a routine mission over Yap Island on September 6, 1944. Jenny is the ideal mitochondrial family reference for Harry's future DNA identification. Harry's family was very challenging to locate, considering how much time had elapsed since his death and the fact that his family name is one of the most common in the US. Another difficulty was that his father was listed with a different family name in Harry's casualty records, implying that Harry had been adopted. Nevertheless, Identifinders was able to locate [...]