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Forensic Genealogy

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A new book, co-authored by Michael S. Ramage, JD CG, and Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CG, is now available for pre-order.

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CAFG-logo-v5-color-Small-150x150Will you be attending the Forensic Genealogy Institute March 24-29 in Dallas, Texas? If you haven’t signed up yet, these two new lectures announced today are even more reason to attend. I’ve heard these lectures when I attended a Family Update Meeting last summer as part of my work researching US Army military repatriation cases, and they are terrific. Here is the press release from CAFG:

The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) is pleased to announce a special guest presenter at the 2014 Forensic Genealogy Institute.  James J. Canik, Deputy Director, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, will present two sessions during the Advanced Track, immediately following Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG (sm).

1. The Central Identification Laboratory-JPAC: The Recovery and Identification Process

This session will provide an overview of the forensic processes used by the Department of Defense from archival research and field operations to the scientific methodologies employed by the Central Identification Laboratory in establishing the identifications of missing service members from Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.

2. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory: DNA In the Identification Process
This session will provide an overview of the use of Deoxyribonucleic Acid in the identification of human remains.  This will include discussions on current death case identifications to the identification of missing personnel from prior conflicts.  It will present information on typing methods, current capabilities as well as the relevance of family reference specimens in the identification process.

Mr. Canik’s sessions offer an extremely rare opportunity for genealogists to see detailed operations of our country’s military repatriation program.  These presentations are generally reserved for the t he Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) Family Updates. The Family Updates are only open to family members of unaccounted-for service personnel and invited guests. The general public is unable to attend. This presentation may well be a once in a life time opportunity for most professional genealogists.  These presentations are not offered at other forensic genealogy educational events.

James J. Canik, Deputy Director, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Dover AFB, DE.  Since 1990, Mr. Canik has served as AFDIL’s Deputy Director for Administration and Support Services. Previously, he was a career Army Medical Service Corps officer responsible for a wide variety of command and staff assignments.  A Master Aviator in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft, he has logged more than 500 combat hours as a medical evacuation pilot in Vietnam.  For the past 23 years, he has overseen the development of the AFDIL and its 140+ scientific and support staff  responsible for conducting DNA testing of not only current death cases under the jurisdiction of the AFME but also in the identification of remains returned from the battlefields of Southeast Asia, Korea, and World War II.  In addition to coordinating with the Service Casualty Offices for Family Reference Specimen collections from past conflict missing personnel, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains mandated by the Department of Defense for developing the largest DNA Repository in the world, currently storing over 6.8 million DNA specimens of United States Active and Reserve component military service members.

A limited number of seats remain for the Advanced Track.  Attendees of the Advanced Track must have completed at least one of the Foundations in Forensic Genealogy tracks.  Special week-long packages are available for this year’s Foundations and Advanced. Registration is available at