The United States will request India to allow it to excavate two more Second World War aircrash sites in Arunachal Pradesh this year. This follows the first successful repatriation of remains of US soldiers after excavation of a US Air Force B-24 bomber crash site during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India in April.
A senior official of the US Defence Prisoners of War Accounting Agency (DPAA) told The Indian Express that they have identified “possible positions for a little over 20 crash sites” from World War II — all in the Northeast — but the sites are not ready for excavation yet.
“Our hope is to be able to complete up to two missions a year in India for the foreseeable future,” the US official said, adding that the DPAA expects to send India its request for the next mission within few weeks.
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Repatriation of the remains of American soldiers from the Second World War is a politically sensitive issue in the US and is undertaken by the DPAA, which estimates there are approximately 350 US military personnel from the Second World War still missing in India.
“The majority of our missing (soldiers) are along the supply route known as ‘The Hump’ over the Himalayas,” the US official said. The Hump was the main air resupply route from India to China during the Second World War after Japanese troops had captured Burma.
A majority of the 20 sites located by DPAA are in Arunachal Pradesh but some US Air Force planes had also crashed in Assam and Nagaland. Most of these sites have been identified through a combination of historical data and locals talking about a crash which they may have heard from their parents or grandparents.