New Delhi: In what would be an emotional closure for the families of the fallen men, the excavated remains of soldiers and artifacts of a US Air Force B-24 bomber that had crashed in present-day Arunachal Pradesh during the World War II were sent to the US on Wednesday.
Visiting US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter oversaw a repatriation ceremony of US World War II remains from India to the United States.
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) April 13, 2016
Carter on Tuesday expressed his gratitude to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Indian government for their support in facilitating the recovery effort.
"The Indian government agreed to support America's commitment to bringing its fallen personnel home and providing their families the fullest possible accounting, and looks forward to further humanitarian missions of this kind over the next few years to return the remains of these US heroes to their families," a joint statement issued here said on Tuesday.
The repatriation issue had figured in the joint statement issued last year after the visit US President Barack Obama to India.
While the previous UPA government had stopped the recovery of remains following objections by China, which claims Arunachal Pradesh to be its territory, the Narendra Modi government gave Americans fresh permission.
The US is seeking to recover the bodies of American aircrew who died in crashes while flying resupply missions between Assam and Kunming in China during the war.
The US Department of Defense states that over 500 aircraft are still listed missing in the China-India-Burma theatre of the Second World War.
Multiple wreckage of aircraft was discovered north of Itanagar, south of Walong, upper Siang and at other sites in 2006 by a US-based private explorer, Clayton Kuhles.
After pressure from the families of the missing personnel, joint operations to recover the remains were started in late 2008. However, the operations were cancelled by both governments in 2010 and 2011.
(With PTI inputs)