Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Amazing DNA Story

DNA from letters home helps ID Pearl Harbor casualty

By William Cole, Honolulu Advertiser, April 13, 2010

Before he died at Pearl Harbor, less than a month after turning 18, Gerald Lehman sent home to Michigan letters that his mother came to treasure.

In them, the teen talked about going through Navy training in Great Lakes, Ill. — falling out of his sleeping hammock once — and how much he liked his new woolen uniform.

In graceful penmanship, he asked about the family dog, Duke; wrote about waiting to ship out from California on the battleship USS Oklahoma; and seeing the mountains and rainbows of Oahu from the doomed ship.

Unknowingly, Lehman sent home to those who loved him something else, something that wouldn't be useful until decades later: his own DNA.

Sixty-eight years after he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, DNA lifted from the envelopes Lehman had licked helped the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command positively identify the young sailor's remains.

For the rest of the story: Click Here.

Note: Properly used, DNA testing can be a powerful adjunct to traditional genealogical methods. However, you must beware of hucksters promising more than DNA testing can possibly deliver. In particular, for the purposes of this blog, there is no uniquely Melungeon DNA and hence no DNA test for Melungeon ancestry. The only way in which DNA testing might prove Melungeon ancestry is by proving actual descent from a historically documented Melungeon.

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