JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Chaplains from the 25th Infantry Division visited Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on March 29, in an effort to better understand the process of bringing lost American service members back home.
The DPAA's mission is to investigate, recover, and identify those determined as missing in action during our Nation's past conflicts. Once a service member is identified, designated Primary Next of Kin are notified by their respective Casualty Affairs Office, and are given full military honors.
"We only get to see the tail end of it as we perform memorials, but it's important to see the process that happens beforehand," said Maj. (Chaplain) Brian Hargis, the officer in charge of the 25th Sustainment Brigade unit ministry team.
Hargis served as the chaplain of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Div. in 2016 when a Soldier was killed at Kahuku Training Area in a training accident.
While DPAA's primary mission is to locate missing service members, they also provide mortuary affairs support for accidents that occur locally.
During the visit to DPAA, Linda A. Read, the community officer, explained the process of recovery missions and some of the more specific things that are done in order to identify a service member.
Above all, Read explained, she said that the most important was treating the service member with dignity and respect.
"We want to always remember that this was someone's father, husband, son, or great grandfather," said Read.
Hargis said that he will never forget the fallen service members that he has served alongside.
"Chaplains have the ability to impact how families deal with the loss of their loved ones, and learning how the DPAA operates helps us empathize with them that much more during their time of need," said Hargis.