On a US State Department visit, Claire Trevett visited the laboratory in Hawaii whose sole focus is finding the fallen who served for the US and bringing them home - with the help of modern technology.
Row after row of skeletons are laid out on tables in the laboratory in Hawaii's Pearl Harbour.
They are the remains of about 55 US war dead, declared missing after the 1950–1953 Korean War.
North Korea returned them to the US in August, a good faith gesture following US President Donald Trump's first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
They are now on tables in the labs of the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency's base in Honolulu.
A lab worker is bent over one with a small brush.
Small dishes hold scrapings and bone fragments and a table at the end holds items that arrived with the remains, a boot and a water bottle.
On some, bullet holes and fractures can clearly be seen indicating the cause of death.
The agency's job is to identify them using dental records and DNA samples provided by family members.
Nobody can enter the laboratory they are stored in without giving a DNA sample in case of cross-contamination.
At the time of our visit, two had been identified.
Remains of 36 NZers buried overseas to be returned by October
One was a very tall African American whose height and race narrowed down the possibilities in the database, and another had arrived with a dog tag which was quick to confirm.
Since then, the DPAA has issued statements on a further two.
These 55 are a small portion of about 7700 US military personnel who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
Overall, the US has about 82,200 unaccounted for in war – most (72,800) are from World War II. They include one Kiwi listed – Sergeant Arthur Adams was with the US Army Air Force camera unit and went missing in Borneo.
Johnie Webb, the DPAA'S outreach and communications deputy director, says they estimate about 34,000 people can be recovered.
Some are hard to recover because they are in countries the DPAA cannot access itself, such as North Korea although there are hopes it will be allowed in soon.
It is reliant on the efforts of those countries to send remains back.
Others are in deep sea and there is not yet the capability to retrieve them.
The DPAA's job is to deliver on the creed of no man left behind, Webb says.
It is not a cheap exercise. It is US$130 million ($200m) a year. They will get an extra US$21m ($32m) for a North Korea recovery mission if that goes ahead.
In a small number of cases they are women – Webb says some missionaries are missing from Vietnam and 21 women, mainly nurses, are unaccounted for from World War II.
Some are civilians - in January the DPAA reported identifying the remains of Air America air crew shot down during the Vietnam War while on an aid mission.
The agency's staff includes three dentists, 40 anthropologists and 12 archaeologists.
There are genealogists charged with trying to find family and descendants.
It sends teams out to places including Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, and the Pacific Islands. They have been to the jungles of Borneo and Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Guam.
In 2019, they expect to be in 29 countries. Sometimes they work with other teams, such as with Australia in PNG.
There is some hope it will include North Korea. Work went on between 1996 and 2005, but was then halted.
The Trump summit raised hopes of a return.
It is treated as a humanitarian mission. The teams do not wear uniforms or carry weapons, relying on the host country to provide security.
On such missions they do aerial and ground surveys, talk to other veterans and local villagers and elders to get information about where aircraft crashed or skirmishes took place.
They then go out to look for and recover remains, often buried by local villagers at the time.
Sometimes it takes multiple month-long missions to recover one body.
"We find them all over the place. In a place like Papua New Guinea, there are US aircraft all over. We will continue recovering a lot around the world," Webb says.
The current priority is Vietnam, where about 1600 are still missing.
The reason is because the soil is acidic – Webb says there is about a five-year window left before all remains erode away. He recalls the team finding a helicopter that had crashed but all that was found of the crew was the crowns of teeth.
Soil conditions and global politics are not the only obstacles.
Families and descendants can sometimes be reluctant to give DNA samples to use for identification, although it cannot be accessed by law enforcement bodies or used for other purposes.
Negotiations are also tricky for access to places such as former prisoner of war camps – North Korea has never allowed the DPAA to go to areas of those camps.
In recent years, the numbers being identified has escalated to around 200 a year.
That is largely because of the 2015 decision to disinter the remains of "unknown soldiers" in American war cemeteries around the world.
One of the DPAA's working fields is on its own doorstep – the war memorial cemetery at the Punchbowl, a volcanic crater above Honolulu which is now home to row after row after row of soldiers.
There rest the remains of "unknown" soldiers from many battles, as well as many who died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour.
It is now 77 years since that attack and the physical signs remain at the base at Pearl Harbour.
There is strafing on the old runway and bullet holes are in the old glass windows of the hangars.
The most stark reminders of that day are the battleships that still rest under the water – the USS Arizona which was sunk taking 1177 lives, and the USS Oklahoma in which 429 died.
Of those who could be recovered, many were buried as unknown and those from the USS Oklahoma are being disinterred to identify them. So far 200 have been identified.
At the Punchbowl, the tall pillars of the "missing" for different battles have long lists of names engraved in stone.
Beside an increasing number sits a small metal rosette pin – the sign the missing has now been found.
There is only one New Zealander listed in the database at the DPAA – Sergeant Arthur Adams was with the US Army Air Force camera unit and went missing in Borneo.
Adams was born in the US but lived in New Zealand from the age of 10. He enlisted as a photographer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1941 and transferred to the US Armed forces in 1943. He was killed in an airplane crash in 1945 in Borneo at the age of 23.
New Zealand has a very different policy to the US when it comes to finding and repatriating those who died in the two world wars.
The longstanding policy has been for personnel killed overseas before 1955 to be buried overseas rather than returned home, usually in a cemetery governed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The New Zealand Defence Force advised 9827 were listed as missing from the two World Wars. Most were in Belgium from World War I (2372 missing) followed by Gallipoli (1920 missing).
Of those, 3674 are buried in graves marked as unknown New Zealanders.
The remainder are simply missing, possibly in other unidentifiable graves or aircraft that crashed or ships that went down at sea.
Those graves are under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Nor is that likely to change any time soon.
Defence and Veterans' Minister Ron Mark applauds the DPAA's efforts but says there are no plans to try to identify all New Zealander service people in "unknown" graves overseas.
"I wouldn't see myself putting up a Cabinet paper to ask for funding for something like that unless there was a strong desire on the part of the families to do something of that sort.
"It is a discussion that has to be had amongst veterans and families. There has been no push to do that.
"If there was a groundswell, I would keep my ears open to that. It would cost a hell of lot of money, I know that."
While the DPAA has not stinted at exhuming and identifying those in Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorials, such as at Arlington Cemetery, Mark says the potential identification of Unknown Warrior remains in New Zealand create an "interesting debate within veterans' organisations".
"I have not gained the sense they want to change that. They like the fact that this Unknown Warrior represents all of the unknown warriors, and all those who have paid the price and died."
When World War I remains are found in Europe, local police first investigate to ensure they are related to war service rather than more recent.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission then steps in to identify nationality - usually through belongings such as badges and insignia with the bodies.
There is no database of family DNA such as the DPAA has.
Sometimes those who are found can be individually identified.
The NZ Defence Force points to Captain Henry John Innes Walker, a New Zealander serving with the British Army who was killed in Belgium in 1915.
His remains were found along with 18 others.
He was identified by his badges and confirmed through the initials on his watch and binoculars. The NZDF put British authorities in touch with his family in Auckland.
For those killed overseas after 1955, there was a recent repatriation of the remains of 35 personnel from around Asia under the "Te Auraki" (The Return) exercise.
That applied to those buried between 1955 and 1971 - a period when there was no government funding for families to bring loved ones home.
Meanwhile there are hopes Kim Jong-Un's agreement to return US personnel after his talks with Trump will also bring news of the only New Zealander who is missing from the Korean War: Able Seaman Robert Marchioni.
Marchioni was in a landing party in North Korea in 1951 which was attacked by Chinese forces. He was shot and killed.
His colleagues carried his body for a while but eventually had to leave him on a beach so they could escape quickly. They were not able to return to get the body.
Mark said it was not known whether the Chinese had removed the body and buried it – as often happened - or whether it had been washed out to sea by the tide.
Marchioni's family had long hoped for any news and Mark had raised it several times with South Korea officials and diplomats.
They had assured him they would raise his case in ongoing talks with North Korea about the return of missing service personnel.
"Tragically, a resolution may be that his remains were never recovered and were therefore deemed to be lost at sea. But there's always a glimmer and a hope that they did come across his body, and they did recover it and there might be some records all these years later."
Until then, Marchioni remains one of New Zealand's Missing in Action.
• Claire Trevett visited Hawaii and the DPAA as part of a trip sponsored by the US State Department in December 2018.