Forensic Anthropology has recently become well known thanks largely to the hit TV show Bones. Here is an example of a real-life forensic anthropologist who works for the US military to help identify the remains of fallen soldiers.
As the military's only active duty forensic anthropologist, Regan unravels mysteries borne of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the most common cause of death is not a bullet but a homemade bomb. She uses DNA, fingerprints, tissue analysis and painstaking observation to make positive identifications. Part of her "noble mission," she says, is making sure the remains survivors receive belong to their loved ones — and no one else.
These are the first wars in which every American battlefield death is autopsied — and, since 2004, the first in which every set of American military remains undergoes a CT scan. In previous wars, autopsies on American combat casualties were rare and CT scans were never done.
Like a casualty notification officer, Regan encounters family members on the worst days of their lives — and delivers painful truths.
In Regan's hands, each case is much more than anonymous remains. It's a fellow service member whose grieving family is desperate for answers.
"I'm a service member, and these people have made the ultimate sacrifice," she said inside a chilly basement morgue of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner in Rockville, Md. "Everything we do is to honor them and make sure we have uncovered the truth."
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