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Blast and Aircraft Crash Trauma: A Selection of WWII Cases from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Laboratory*, †.

Authors
  • Palmiotto, Andrea1, 2
  • Van Deest, Traci L3
  • McCormick, Kyle2
  • Freas, Laurel2
  • 1 Department of Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 441 North Walk, 15705, Indiana, Pennsylvania. , (India)
  • 2 Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Laboratory, 590 Moffet Street, Bldg 4077, 96853, JBPHH, Hawaii.
  • 3 Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Laboratory, 106 Peacekeeper Dr, Bldg 301, 68113, Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of forensic sciences
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2020
Volume
65
Issue
6
Pages
1806–1819
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.14528
PMID: 32745251
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study examines patterns of skeletal trauma in propeller-driven aircraft crashes and blast-related ground loss incidents from WWII. Specifically, descriptions and criteria used to characterize aircraft deceleration- versus blast-related skeletal injuries are examined from 35 recently identified forensic anthropology cases to determine possible diagnostic traits and characterize skeletal trauma associated with these events. Among these cases, blast trauma is more localized within the skeleton and is associated with one or few primary directions of force. It is recommended that analysts differentiate between secondary and nonspecific blast trauma categories. Conversely, aircraft crash deceleration trauma is more widespread throughout the skeleton, with torsional fractures and injuries occurring from multiple or indeterminate directions. These traits reflect factors such as more complex loading environments than is seen in blast events. Two case studies are presented in detail to further illustrate differences in aircraft crash and blast-related incidents. Both studies emphasize consideration of the body as a whole unit to facilitate interpretations. While the cases presented herein result from historic war-related casualties that characterize the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency's (DPAA) casework, these skeletal cases provide guidelines more appropriate than clinically derived criteria developed through assessments of soft tissue injuries. These guidelines can be used by anthropologists and pathologists working with skeletal remain from mass disasters and other complex contexts, as well as provide avenues for future research. © 2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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