Scientists at DAFB Help ID Unidentified Remains - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Scientists at DAFB Help ID Unidentified Remains

Posted:
Kerriann Meyers works on a sample at AFMES. (Photo: WBOC) Kerriann Meyers works on a sample at AFMES. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Dover Air Force Base is home to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. One of its functions is to help identify unidentified remains of servicemen and women.

The staff there reports out hundreds of analyses a year. Last year it was 1,700. Many of those analyses will not lead to an ID, but some will.

Kerriann Meyers is basically a detective. She's a DNA analyst with AFMES.

Meyers is part of a careful, methodical process to ID remains. And she starts with a sample and a small amount of information from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

"A case number, a sample number and the conflict that it originated from," she said. "At the time I'm processing, I don't have numbers. I don't know who they're looking for. It's very much in the blind."

The sample is first cleaned - sanded, washed, decontaminated. Then DNA is extracted and copied over and over and over again. Next that DNA is sequenced to determine its unique code. Finally the sequence is compared to sequences in a DOD database. And hopefully a match is found.

"When you're assigned to make a comparison, and you discover that, yes, these sequences are consistent with one another, it's exciting," said Meyers. "It's the time in your job where a case number becomes a name."

It becomes a name like Capt. Rick Chorlins, a US Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War.

He was killed when his plane was shot down. His body couldn't be recovered.

But four decades later, a small bone fragment from unidentified remains found in Vietnam ended up in front of Meyers.

"It was roughly the size of your pinky finger," she said.

And it weighed less than a paper clip does. But it was enough for Meyers to help make a match. It was enough for Toby Keane, in St. Louis, to get a phone call.

"He said, 'This is Mortuary Affairs with the Air Force. And we have a DNA match to a piece of bone to your mother's DNA. We have a piece of bone from your brother,' said Keane. "We just never thought at this stage in the game that there would be anything. it wasn't much, but it was part of his physical being."

"It's why I'm here. It's why I come to work every day. I work for the families," said Meyers.

She, and her colleagues, give Capt. Chorlins' family, and so many other families, something physical to connect to, to bury and to help them find closure.

AFMES has more than 70 scientists and does work for all the branches of the military.

KMOV Reporter Mike Colombo contributed to this report.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • People of Cambridge Move on From Segregated Past

    People of Cambridge Move on From Segregated Past

    07/24/2017 16:05:00 -04:002017-07-24 20:05:00 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 4:13 PM EDT2017-07-24 20:13:11 GMT
    Fifty years ago, civil unrest in Cambridge reached a boiling point. Now fifty years later, people say they are ready to reflect on those times and to move forward.More
    Fifty years ago, civil unrest in Cambridge reached a boiling point. Now fifty years later, people say they are ready to reflect on those times and to move forward.More
  • Assateague Horse Died After Eating Dog Food

    Assateague Horse Died After Eating Dog Food

    07/24/2017 15:45:00 -04:002017-07-24 19:45:00 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 3:57 PM EDT2017-07-24 19:57:23 GMT
    A photo of the mare that died after eating dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore. (Photo credit: L. Davis/Assateague Island National Seashore)A photo of the mare that died after eating dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore. (Photo credit: L. Davis/Assateague Island National Seashore)
    Officials say a wild horse was found dead after eating a large amount of dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore.More
    Officials say a wild horse was found dead after eating a large amount of dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore.More
  • Queen Anne's County Fire Causes Over $200,000 in Damages

    Queen Anne's County Fire Causes Over $200,000 in Damages

    07/24/2017 15:53:00 -04:002017-07-24 19:53:00 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 3:53 PM EDT2017-07-24 19:53:59 GMT
    courtesy of Maryland State Fire Marshal's Officecourtesy of Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office
    A fire in Queen Anne's County took 26 firefighters and nearly two hours to put out on Sunday morning, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal.More
    A fire in Queen Anne's County took 26 firefighters and nearly two hours to put out on Sunday morning, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Updated: Queen Anne's County Tornado Confirmed

    Damage, Power Outages Reported After Maryland Severe Weather

    07/24/2017 07:59:00 -04:002017-07-24 11:59:00 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 3:29 PM EDT2017-07-24 19:29:58 GMT
    A large tree fell on this house in Stevensville, Md. during an overnight severe storm that passed through the area. (Photo:  Frank Tedesco/ Atlantic City Electric)A large tree fell on this house in Stevensville, Md. during an overnight severe storm that passed through the area. (Photo: Frank Tedesco/ Atlantic City Electric)
    A National Weather Service team has confirmed an EF2 tornado touched down in Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The tornado downed trees, damaged homes, and knocked out power out for thousands.More
    A National Weather Service team has confirmed an EF2 tornado touched down in Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The overnight weather event downed trees, damaged homes, and knocked out power out for thousands.More
  • ATV Driver Hit By Crop Duster in Berlin

    ATV Driver Hit By Crop Duster in Berlin

    Monday, July 24 2017 7:49 AM EDT2017-07-24 11:49:02 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 7:49 AM EDT2017-07-24 11:49:02 GMT
    (Photo:MGN)(Photo:MGN)
    An ATV driver suffered minor injuries after a crop duster pilot attempted to land at an airfield in Worcester County Sunday morning, Maryland State Police said.More
    An ATV driver suffered minor injuries after a crop duster pilot attempted to land at an airfield in Worcester County Sunday morning, Maryland State Police said.More
  • Man Charged in Deadly Dover Crash

    Deadly Dover Crash

    Monday, July 24 2017 7:49 AM EDT2017-07-24 11:49:14 GMT
    Monday, July 24 2017 7:49 AM EDT2017-07-24 11:49:14 GMT
    The crash happened on McKee Road near Seskinore Court in Dover.The crash happened on McKee Road near Seskinore Court in Dover.
    A 23-year-old Dover man has been charged with vehicular homicide following the death of 62-year-old Derik Percorini of Dover, police said.More
    A 23-year-old Dover man has been charged with vehicular homicide following the death of 62-year-old Derik Percorini of Dover, police said.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Damage, Power Outages Reported in Queen Anne's Co. After Severe Weather

    Damage, Power Outages Reported in Queen Anne's Co. After Severe Weather

    A National Weather Service team is headed to Maryland's Eastern Shore to determine whether a tornado touched down there.

    The weather service says the team is headed to Queen Anne's County on Monday to assess damage from the early morning storm that downed trees, collapsed buildings and knocked out power to thousands overnight in the Stevensville area of Kent Island. County officials say one person was injured but those injuries were not life-threatening.

    More

    A National Weather Service team is headed to Maryland's Eastern Shore to determine whether a tornado touched down there.

    The weather service says the team is headed to Queen Anne's County on Monday to assess damage from the early morning storm that downed trees, collapsed buildings and knocked out power to thousands overnight in the Stevensville area of Kent Island. County officials say one person was injured but those injuries were not life-threatening.

    More
  • WBOC Morning Weather for Monday, July 24, 2017

    WBOC Morning Weather for Monday, July 24, 2017

  • Sussex Man Convicted of Murder Granted Parole, Victim's Mother Speaks

    Sussex Man Convicted of Murder Granted Parole, Victim's Mother Speaks

    A Sussex County man convicted of murder 30 years ago has been granted parole.

    Back in 1987, deer hunters found the body of 18-year-old Douglas Brockway Jr. in a wooded area outside of Lewes. Ransford Bryan III was later charged in the murder and convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    More

    A Sussex County man convicted of murder 30 years ago has been granted parole.

    Back in 1987, deer hunters found the body of 18-year-old Douglas Brockway Jr. in a wooded area outside of Lewes. Ransford Bryan III was later charged in the murder and convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices