copy of the letter must be sent to the COMNAVMILPERSCOM and OJAG (Investi- gations Division).
An autopsy will be performed on the remains of all persons who die on active duty or active duty for training when the CO deems it necessary. The COs request may be self-initiated or based upon the recommendation of an investigating officer, other fact-finding body, or a medical officer. An autopsy may be necessary to determine the true cause of death, to get information for completing military records, or to protect the welfare of the military community.
The Manual of the Medical Department states that when an aircrew member dies while serving as an aircrew member on a military aircraft, the medical officer will recommend to the CO that an autopsy be performed to determine the cause of death. The cause of death in these cases is interpreted to mean any correlation between pathological evidence and the accident cause factor.
When an autopsy is desired but not mandatory, the following sentence will be in- corporated in the casualty notification message that requests disposition instructions from the PNOK. In the interest of medical science and to confirm medical diagnosis, it is requested that your telegram include whether or not permission is granted to accomplish mortem examination.
When an autopsy is deemed necessary for retired personnel or nonmilitary persons who die at a naval treatment facility or on a Navy installation, written authorization from the NOK must be obtained prior to performing the autopsy. The request for permission to perform an autopsy should be incorporated in the casualty notifica- tion message as noted above.
The search, recovery, and identification of remains should be accomplished as soon as possible and should be in coordination with an administrative fact-finding body. Normally, the need for these operations will result from acts of violence, such as an aircraft accident, fire, explosion, or natural disaster. The Manual of the Judge Advocate General (JAGMAN) requires the convening of an administrative fact-finding body when incidents of this nature occur. This responsibility is usually delegated to a naval activity with necessary capabilities at or near the scene of disaster. In establishing identi- fication of remains, the conducting of search and recovery operations is part of the fact-finding bodys functions, with technical assistance furnished by appropriate medical authorities.
Every effort will be made to ensure that all remains have been recovered. Commingled masses of unidentified remains will not be separated arbitrarily. All anatomical portions of human remains recovered from the scene of a disaster subsequent to release of remains will be reported to the COMNAVMEDCOM by priority message. All factual information available will be provided. Do not release information to the NOK, family, or news media unless specific instructions are received from the COMNAVMEDCOM.
When search, recovery, and identification operations continue for more than 36 hours, chronological progress reports will be dispatched every 24 hours to the COMNAVMEDCOM, with the appropriate information addressees directed by BUMEDINST 5360.1.
When the CO is satisfied that identification is established beyond doubt and documented accordingly, the remains may be considered identified. A minimum of two statements of recognition substantiated by dental and/or fingerprint comparison or intact remains will substantiate identification requirements.
The COMNAVMEDCOM will establish final conclusions and take action required for final disposition of these remains if shipped from outside CONUS to CONUS. Disposition of unidentified remains will be directed by the COMNAVMEDCOM or the CMC as ap- propriate.
Final conclusions will result in one of the following determinations after a thorough study of all evidence.
Unidentified, but believed to be a specific individual