Absent Friend Chapter 51

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Absent Friend
Chapter 51 of 52
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Time frameDecember 31, 1990 -
January 1991
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  • Outside the village of Duc Vinh, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
  • Manilia, Phillipines
  • The U.S. Army Central Identification Lab in Hawaii



Another two days are spent excavating and sifting the site, storing Henry's remains in an archeological artifact box. They then decide that they have done what they came to do, and have done all that they can, and it's time to go home. The plan is to try and just walk on the plane with the artifact box, and hope no-one asks about it, rather than to try and deal with officialdom. Since there are effectively no customs checks on outgoing luggage, this works.

During a plane-change layover in Manila they contact the American Embassy and inform them of what has happened. They fly on to Hawaii, as planned, though they have a military escort, are in first class, and the artifact box has its own seat. A military honor guard is waiting when they land, and escorts them to the Army Central Identification Lab, where formal identification would take place.

Whilst the staff of the identification center debriefs Dr. Rod Matson, Mike rings up Kirsten at the Spearfish Lake Record-Herald offices, and dictates a short story announcing the discovery of the remains of Henry Tovio. They had to rip up the front page to lead with the story.

Real World Note

The The U.S. Army Central Identification Lab in Hawaii was a part of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (often referred to as JPAC) whose mission was to account for Americans who are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), or Missing in Action (MIA), from all past wars and conflicts. On January 30, 2015, JPAC was officially deactivated by the Department of Defense. JPAC, the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), and certain functions of the U.S. Air Force's Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, were all merged into the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. More details are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_POW/MIA_Accounting_Command.