Kate (acetamide) wrote in little_details,

how long before a missing person can be ruled as dead in the US military?

Setting: US, modern day

My main character is in the Navy Reserves, and is called upon to serve in a conflict (either Iraq or Afghanistan, I haven't decided which yet). Off he toddles and everything's going okay - until there's an attack, and the vehicle that he's in is destroyed.

He manages to escape and get away, but nobody knows. There were about 20 people in the vehicle at the time, and they were all killed - various body parts are strewn around, but some bodies are just too damaged to be full bodies. It's on that level of destruction. Pretty grim.

My question is - if nobody saw my character escape, and he doesn't get in contact with anyone or show any signs of life like using credit cards etc., then:

1. How long would it be before he was declared legally dead?
2. What would be the general sort of procedure for this sort of thing?
3. If he is declared dead, would a funeral be held for him?
4. And what would happen when he eventually turns up, very much alive?

I'm thinking that if I pull a Pettigrew and have one of his fingers left behind, or that sort of thing, it might assist with them presuming that he's dead.

I've nearly memorised the death in absentia wiki page, I've read it that much, and I've done a million and one google searches with a variety of terms, but I can't find any hints as to how long the process takes, and the aftermath of it.

Thank you in advance!
Tags: usa: military (misc), ~missing persons

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