Officials Confirm Body Found in Baghdad is Missing Soldier
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2007 A body found in Iraq May 23 is that of one of three U.S. soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 31st Infantry Regiment believed to have been abducted during a May 12 ambush, Defense Department officials confirmed late yesterday.
Iraqi police found the body of Army Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, a native of Torrance, Calif., in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad and turned it over to American officials for identification.
A massive search continues for Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., the other missing soldiers.
Though it was widely reported in the media, the Defense Department held off on officially confirming Anzack’s death out of consideration for his family.
Privacy considerations of families during very difficult times are at the heart of the Defense Department policy on identifying military casualties, officials said yesterday.
The policy on public identification of military casualties is governed by Public Law 108-136, Section 546 -- a part of the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act.
Under the law, defense officials may release no casualty information to the media or general public until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification. This covers active-duty or reserve-component personnel killed, injured or missing in action or otherwise considered a casualty.
The 24-hour clock begins again any time there is a change in duty status, officials said. For example, when a servicemember is listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown,” as Anzack was after the May 12 attack, the servicemember’s family would be notified, and then the 24-hour clock begins for public release of the information.
If the servicemember’s remains are found and identified, then the family is again notified and the 24-hour clock begins again from the time of notification.
The policy is to “respect and to provide for the privacy of the families in the immediate aftermath of notification of the recovery and identification of a servicemember who has been unaccounted for or missing,” according to the policy letter signed by David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
(American Forces Press Service correspondents Jim Garamone and John Banusiewicz contributed to this report.)