Publisher description for Where they lay : searching for American soldiers who fell in battle / Earl Swift.
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From Southeast Asia's rain forest to futuristic labs near Pearl Harbor, CILHI (short for Central Identification Laboratory<en>Hawaii) seeks the bodies of American soldiers killed in wartime. Their mission entails old-fashioned bushwhacking and detective work as well as the latest in forensic technology. Earl Swift follows a CILHI team into the Laotian jungle as they search for the remains of Major Jack Barker, whose chopper went down in a fireball more than thirty years ago.
Swift blends the story of the team's work with a pulse-quickening account of Barker's fatal attempt to rescue trapped soldiers during the largest helicopter battle in history. Where They Lay gains remarkable immediacy from Swift's extensive research into Barker's life and demise, and from his hands-on work with CILHI, combing the jungle floor for clues amid vipers, scorpions, flash floods, and land mines.
Where They Lay resounds with admiration for those who fell and those who seek them. But Swift also raises hard questions about CILHI's mission. Is it worth $100 million a year to try -- with diminishing success -- to bring home relics from old wars? Is it worth the lives of today's soldiers? (Twenty CILHI staffers died in the line of duty just months before Swift went in country.) And how is CILHI's work compromised by the corruption and profiteering rampant among native officials overseeing its missions in their countries?
As new conflicts loom, Where They Lay throws brilliant light on war's cost to soldiers and to those they leave at home.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 Missing in action United States, Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 Campaigns Laos, Barker, Jack