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Department of Defense helping families find closure

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – There are more than eighty thousand service men and women unaccounted for since World War II.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah)– There are more than eighty thousand service men and women unaccounted for since World War II.

That means thousands of families don't know what happened to their loved ones, but the Defense Department is helping them find answers.

Saturday the department's POW/Missing Personnel Office was in Salt Lake City, drawing broken hearts from hundreds of miles away.

William Mcquiston of Idaho Falls, Idaho never met the uncle he was named after, because he died in a plane crash while serving our country in World War II.

"Ten years ago when I found a picture I started crying, because I didn't think I'd ever find anything," says Mcquiston.

Carolynn Delascasas, from Bennion, Utah was only six years old when she found out something happened to her uncle in the Korean War.

"One of my uncles came to my house, I was outside playing in the yard and I knew something was wrong when he immediately went in to my house and told my father and mother my uncle Keith was missing," says Delascasas.

Neither uncle was ever found, but Mcquiston and Delascasas have never given up. Saturday their search for closure brought them to the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

That's where an investigation team from the department of defense set up to help families fill the void.

"It's not really finding remains, it's finding credible evidence and circumstantial evidence of the remains to help close the cases of those who are still missing," says Shaelia Sledge, with the POW/Missing Personnel Office.

Investigators use DNA and other means to identify the eighty three thousand missing service members from our country since World War II.

At meetings like this one they meet one on one with family members to review cases and provide updates.

"Even though these wars were decades ago, these conflicts were decades ago we're still dedicated to our mission of keeping the promise to help bring some of these family members home," says Sledge.

The office identifies eighty to ninety missing service members each year. That's why Mcquiston and Delascasas keep up the good fight.

"It's been a long search and just wanting to know what happened. I'm probably finding out more today than my grandmother, his mother or my brothers knew,” says Mcquiston.

"It gives us hope, like that one lady who stood up and said they just found her uncle's remains. I hope one day we can stand up and say the same thing," says Delascasas.

The POW/Missing Personnel Office hosts six of these meetings every year. They select big cities, like Salt Lake City and invite families within a three hundred mile radius.
People traveled from Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Colorado to attend.

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