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Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

The Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner is the center of medical-legal investigations for the organization, and is responsible for determining the cause and manner of death for all active duty members who die within federal jurisdiction, as well as for identifying the decedent.

Medical-Legal Investigations 

Working closely with investigative arms of each military branch; forensic investigation of crime scenes are conducted upon request. The organization also has memorandums of understanding/agreement to support a variety of additional federal agencies. Operational deployment can be accomplished worldwide in when necessary and without notice, depending on location. Board certified forensic pathologists, forensic anthropologists, medical-legal death investigators, photographers, and histotechnicians all support this key function.

Aerospace Pathology & Air Mishap Investigations

In addition, the organization is the acknowledged expert in the area of military aircraft mishaps. A team consisting of a forensic pathologist, forensic anthropologist, medicolegal death investigator, and photographer can deploy to the mishap site for recovery, identification, re-association and return of remains to the families of the deceased.

Medical Mortality Surveillance 

Personnel conduct mortality surveillance on all active duty U.S. service members and provide information to improve warfighter survivability. They also present and publish relevant findings related to service member mortality.

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Folklore vampire possibly identified

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8/12/2019
Dr. Kristen E. Pearlstein, Collections Manager, National Museum of Health and Medicine displays remains of “JB-55” during a Science Café at the museum, Silver Spring, Maryland. “JB-55” remains were that of a suspected “vampire” in the mid-1800s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

According to legend, residents of Jewett City, Connecticut, were being terrorized by recently deceased vampires

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Colony Glacier: Joint team unearths lost service members

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7/17/2019
Recovery team members traverse Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 2019. The recovery team was searching for remains from a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Gannett Mountain, Alaska, on Nov. 22, 1952, while flying from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska resulting in the loss of 52 service members. (Courtesy photo)

This is part one of a two-part series on the Colony Glacier recovery efforts

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AFMES Joint MWD Lab ensures DoD kennels are meeting the standard

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7/8/2019
Air Force Staff Sgt. Vivian Johnson, AFMES Joint MWD Laboratory NCO in charge (left), discusses the upcoming Military Working Dog kennel inspection schedule with Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Tutt, AFMES Joint MWD laboratory manager (center), and Navy Lt. Ken Lindsay, AFMES Joint MWD Laboratory chief, June 7, 2019. Johnson and Tutt conduct random inspections each month to ensure training aids for the MWDs are being handled correctly and those handling them have the proper authorization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Site visits provide an excellent opportunity to educate MWD sites

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Histology: Where art and science merge

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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Wiedmeyer, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System histotechnichian, looks at slides of tissues under a microscope before handing them off to a medical examiner June 6, 2019. The stained tissues help medical examiners see down to the cellular level for a diagnosis of cause of death. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Without a histotechnician, tissue processing would take much longer to be completed

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Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Consultation Request Form

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5/22/2019

Medical information received is considered during the consultative process and is used to form a database for education and research in pathology.

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Request for Autopsy Report and Supplemental Information

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2/15/2019

Use this form to obtain records/reports/photos of remains by persons legally authorized access to this information.

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AFMES, DPAA shares missions with service members, families

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2/6/2019
Todd Livick, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Outreach and Communications director, speaks to U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructors about the DPAA mission at the U.S. Army S.E.R.E. school, Fort Rucker, Alabama. The DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System provided information on their respective missions and held question and answer session with the Soldiers to provide a better understanding about the two agencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

They’re all here for the same reason; to bring their loved one home

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AFMES participates in 'Safe and Sound' week

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8/27/2018
Air Force Tech Sgt. Aisuluu Alford (left) and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Tutt, both Armed Forces Medical Examiner System forensic toxicology laboratory technicians, grab supplies out of the Shelter-In-Place Kit during a Shelter-In-Place exercise. The exercise was part of Safe and Sound week where AFMES personnel were able to engage in different safety activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Safe and Sound Week is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and understanding of safety and health programs within the workplace

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AFMES DoD DNA Operations Fact Sheet 2018

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AFMES embraces resiliency

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Col. Louis Finelli, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System director, talks with AFMES personnel during a resiliency day at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del., May 24, 2018. Finelli talked about the importance of coming together as a family to be able to destress and be more resilient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

AFMES town hall focused on workplace and summer safety, security awareness and resiliency

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AFMES DNA FAQs 2018

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This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System's Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

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AFMES Fact Sheet 2018

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This Fact Sheet describes the purpose of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

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AFMES DNA lab helps identify the fallen of past conflicts

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Gina Parada, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System DNA analyst, collects a DNA sample during a POW/MIA Accounting Agency Family Member Update in Louisville, Kentucky. DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

DNA can be used to support anthropology of recovered skeletal remains or be used as primary means of identification

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AFMES Form 25: Histology Request and Specimen Storage

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Use this form to obtain information/specimens needed for histology tissue processing and/or specimen storage.

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Disposition of Organs Retained for Extended Examination

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Use this form to grant permission to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System to retain organs for an extended examination to determine cause of death.

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Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner
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