JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — More than 81,000 military members are considered missing in action dating back to World War II. Now, a nonprofit and a Florida company owned by veterans are teaming up to find those missing service members.
The first joint mission between the organizations will begin this summer. Through the partnership, Project Recover, a nonprofit that specializes in finding missing soldiers and returning them home, will use the expertise of Florida-based Legion Undersea Services. This is a team of former U.S. Navy Divers who will be able to help recover MIAs from underwater crash sites.
Derek Abbey, President and CEO of Project Recover, told First Coast News his organization is expanding its mission capabilities from discovery to recovery.
"Traditionally, we would find sites, we would document sites and we turn all that information over to the Department of Defense and then they would do recovery missions. But in recent years, they've expanded to include public-private partnerships, and with that our mission has expanded to include recovery of remains. Many of the sites that we locate are under water, and so Legion Undersea Services is going to be our key partner to doing these underwater recoveries," Abbey explained.
Project Recover's main goal is to bring some type of closure to the families of these missing military members. So far, Project Recover has helped return 15 service members back home who were missing in action. The organization has located more than 80 who are awaiting recovery.
"When that loved one is located and repatriated and returned to them, the families come together from across the nation, the community comes together, and it has this healing impact from the individual all the way up to the national level," Abbey said.