Offutt Air Base Forensic Facility Hosts Colombian Scientists

Aug. 8, 2022, 5 p.m. ·

Colombian Scientists Tour DPAA
Colombian scientists on a tour of the DPAA forensic facility at the Offutt Air Force Base (Photo by Tanner Dykstra, Nebraska Public Media

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On Monday morning, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lab at the Offutt Air Base welcomed 9 Colombian scientists. The group seeks to learn more to accomplish their goal of identifying missing persons from armed conflicts in Colombia.

DPAA specializes in the identification of MIA American soldiers. On Monday morning, Colombian scientists representing three different government groups toured the Offutt base facility. Francis Niño is a forensic anthropologist at the Colombian Attorney General’s office. She said they only hope to bring closure for the families of the dead.

“Our greatest satisfaction is to be able to deliver victims to the families because our country is a Catholic country. This helps the families to be able to do burials and go through the grief process,” she said.

The Colombian scientists are sponsored by the Department of Justice through an international criminal investigation training program. This week they will train with the forensic team from DPAA, bringing what they learn in the US back to their work in Colombia. Jessica Yopak, a DPAA forensic anthropologist, said identifying the dead is a humanitarian effort across all borders.

“We’re open to working with identifying missing individuals because that’s really a basic human issue. There’s people missing from all over the globe. It truly is a human, international issue," she said.

The visiting Colombian scientists and officials will continue their week in Nebraska by speaking to forensic scientists from the University of Nebraska.