This announcement comes after the United States and Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the United States to exhume the remains of unidentified soldiers from the American cemetery in North Africa and bring them back home for identification and reunification with family members.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fallen heroes and their families,” said Chargé d’Affairs, Natasha Francesky. “Today’s historic agreement will ensure that the American soldiers and women who gave their lives defending our freedom are recognized and honored for the ultimate sacrifice they made for our country.”
The cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia, near the Mediterranean Sea, is the burial site of 2,841 American soldiers from the North African Campaign. The Wall of the Missing, a memorial wall in the cemetery, lists the names of 3,724 service members who went missing in action and were never found.
It was not clear how many remains would be returned to the United States.
The Allied capture of Tunisia provided a base for the conquest of Europe during World War II. Despite the early successes of German and Italian forces, the Axis powers lost control of Tunisia to better equipped Allied forces. By the summer of 1943, the Allies had captured Tunisia and expelled the remainder of the Axis Powers.
The 1960 North American African Cemetery was established for soldiers killed in action, but the United States has been unable to exhume the remains of the unidentified soldiers and attempt to identify them.
The newly signed Memorandum of Understanding will allow the United States to begin the often difficult process of exhuming and identifying the remains. The embassy did not say when that would start.
An official from the Prisoners of War Accountability Agency / Ministry of Interior attended the signing ceremony. This agency’s mission is to recover and identify US military personnel using a combination of forensic science technology and military records.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery, emphasized a deep and unwavering commitment to honoring the sacrifices of soldiers.
“When we choose between easy and right,” Austin said, “let us live by the example of our fallen warriors.” “And when these values we hold dear are put to the test, let us live by the ideals they gave their lives to defend.”
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that it is not known how many remains are being returned to the United States.
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