Cape native featured in documentary about search for remains of soldiers

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cape Girardeau native and Marine Capt. Todd Nordman will be featured in the documentary "Until They Are Home." The red carpet premiere for the film will be Monday at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles.

The documentary by filmmaker Steven C. Barber chronicles the 45-day mission of the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command to search for the remains of U.S. Marines killed during the Battle of Tarawa, a series of islets in the central Pacific Ocean. The battle between the Marines and Imperial Japanese forces took place from Nov. 20 to 23, 1943. During those three days, 1,113 Marines were killed. The film is narrated by Kelsey Grammer, Larry King and John Savage.

"I think it is entirely appropriate for it [the premiere] to be on Memorial Day because they are looking for lost veterans and trying to bring them home," said Ernie Nordman, Todd Nordman's father.

Ernie Nordman of Cape Girardeau said he is extremely proud of his son. He and his family will fly to Los Angeles to attend the premiere.

"I haven't seen them in eight months," Todd Nordman said. "I am totally excited."

Todd Nordman, 35, has been with the Marines for seven years and is stationed in Hawaii. He has been involved with JPAC for three years.

JPAC is a joint effort by the four branches of the military and civilians. It conducts searches worldwide in hopes of accounting for Americans lost during United States conflicts.

According to Todd Nordman, JPAC members have three tasks. The first is investigating, which involves conducting research in archives and interviewing locals to gain enough information to correlate a missing person to an area. Once they have gained this information, they begin the second step, excavating the area to recover remains. After recoveries have been made, they bring the remains back to the Central Identification Laboratory, where they are identified using skeletal reconstruction and DNA sampling. The remains are then released to the family.

Todd Nordman serves as a team leader for the recovery aspect of the process. He lead a team of 17 JPAC members during the mission at Tarawa. He said it is electric when the team makes a recovery.

"When we find an individual, it is unbelievable the energy that flows through the team," Todd Nordman said.

According to Ernie Nordman, being a team leader for JPAC has taken his son to locations such as Vietnam, New Guinea, Poland and Austria.

"He has been all over the world doing this for the past three years," Ernie Nordman said.

Ernie Nordman said his son has spoken in Cape Girardeau about JPAC at the Missouri Veterans Home, the Lions Club and the Optimist Club.

"As soon as he is done, he is treated like a rock star," Ernie Nordman said.

Todd Nordman said he is always proud to return to Cape Girardeau where he is able to visit friends and family.

"Cape will always, always be my home," he said.


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