European edition, Saturday, July 21, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An Air Force sergeant, an airman and her brother will be laid to rest nearly 30 years after they went missing during a cave diving trip in Greece.

Military medical examiners used DNA tests to link Air Force Sgt. Donald Michaud, 32; Airman 1st Class Jan Granroth, 20; and Mark Granroth, 21, to the remains found by Greek divers last year, said the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece. The three disappeared Sept. 9, 1978, while diving in the underwater caves of Vouliagmeni Lake.

The U.S. Embassy planned to make a formal announcement of the positive identification on Friday.

The remains of Michaud were buried at St. Joseph’s Church in Biddeford, Maine. Funeral services for the Granroth siblings will be held on Aug. 4 at the United Methodist Church in Sebeka, Minn., according to the embassy. Both Michaud and Jan Granroth will receive full military honors.

Michaud left behind his wife, Rosemary, and their children, The Associated Press reported.

His son, Robert Michaud, said he had hoped that his father had somehow survived the diving trip.

“Growing up, I envisioned him working secretly for the government,” he told The Associated Press. “There was this little bit of hope.”

The two airmen were stationed at Hellenikon Air Base in Greece at the time of their disappearance.

The tunnels at Vouliagmeni are known for their treacherous currents. Divers gave up the search after several attempts in 1978 to find them. In 1990, a photographer searching for the missing Americans died in the caves.

The bodies remained in the caves until a group of volunteer Greek divers found two sets of remains last summer and a third set last October. The Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of the School of Medicine of the University of Athens tried to identify the remains, but turned the job over to the military last February.

The embassy thanked the volunteers who found the remains for risking their lives and other Greek public and private organizations for helping the families receive some closure.

“Without all these efforts, the families of the lost divers would still be living in uncertainty and unresolved grief,” an embassy statement said.

Military medical examiners used mitochondrial DNA sequencing and comparison to confirm the identities of the bones found by the divers. It is the same testing used to identify missing Vietnam and World War II servicemembers.

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