UTAH

BYU using genealogy to reconnect MIA soldiers with families

Jun 21, 2018, 10:29 PM | Updated: Jun 23, 2018, 3:11 pm
From left: Student Melanie Torres, Professor Jill Crandell, and student Kimberly Brown. Photography by Rebekah Baker/BYU

PROVO — When History Professor Jill Crandell’s class dives into a new investigation, it starts and ends on a computer. The United States military has other units searching historical records, and digging up sites that lead to the recovery of MIA, missing in action, soldier’s bodies. Crandell’s class is then in charge of helping the military try to identify those bodies.

“They assign us a soldier, give us a personnel file with some information, so we know who we are looking for,” Crandell said. “Then the students just start researching: try to find records about that soldier and their family, try to determine if they are living or deceased.”

The Brigham Young University class have been tasked with finding more than the family. The military needs Y-DNA, a part of the DNA strand that is only passed down through same gender family members, to make a positive identification. For example, a male soldier will share Y-DNA with his father or a relative with the same paternal lineage. The difficulty is some of these cases are so old all of the soldier’s immediate family members have already passed away.

“We’ve had some cases that we’ve gone back as many as four or five generations, and back down again, in order to find the kind of DNA that we need,” Crandell said.

From left: Student Melanie Torres, Professor Jill Crandell, and student Kimberly Brown.
Photography by Rebekah Baker/BYU

BYU is the only school in the nation that offers a four-year degree in genealogy, and it’s that specialization that brought the military knocking on Crandell’s door last year.

“One of the leaders of the defense POW MIA accounting agency contacted us and asked us if we would be willing to assist in this effort,” she said. “There are still about 82 thousand that are still missing that they are trying to account for.”

Since last fall Crandell’s class has been assigned 65 cases and found family members in 48 of the cases. She says that’s 48 families who, hopefully, will finally get closure.

“Some of these families are going to start getting their soldiers back.”

Today’s Top Stories

Utah

The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Weste...
Lindsay Aerts

Fourth of July weekend weather conditions ripe for fires

The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Western Utah. It warns that many fires are human caused.
16 hours ago
Salt Lake County is working to make sure its golf courses don't use as much water in the drought....
Martha Harris

Salt Lake County says it has decreased water-use on its golf courses

Salt Lake County says it has back water usage on its golf courses. The county says it has done by changing how they water.
16 hours ago
Fireworks light up the night sky over Liberty Park Thursday July 24, 2003 Photo by Scott G Winterto...
Mark Jackson

Fireworks and some open flames are now banned in Park City

Just before the holiday weekend, Park City has banned fireworks and non-permitted open flames due to extreme drought conditions and fire risk.
16 hours ago
The new monuments at This is the place heritage park....
Mark Jackson

This is the Place Heritage Park to unveil monuments for early Black pioneers

This is the Place Heritage Park will unveil a monument dedicated to early Black pioneers on July 22, just in time for Pioneer Day.
16 hours ago
Back view of two ambulances...
Don Brinkerhoff

Herriman mother saved by off-duty police officer

A Herriman woman feels lucky to be alive after her raft is tipped over and she nearly drowned last week.
16 hours ago
Fireworks and sparklers are on display...
Lindsay Aerts

Watch public fireworks instead of lighting your own, says state fire marshal

Fireworks in Utah will be legal to set off in approved areas by July 2, and the state fire marshal asked anyone lighting their own to practice caution.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
BYU using genealogy to reconnect MIA soldiers with families