Wisconsin Senate approves funding for UW missing soldiers project

MADISON — University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers would be permitted to request funding from the state to recover missing Wisconsin soldiers under a bill the state Senate overwhelmingly approved Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The bipartisan proposal would allow the UW-Madison Missing-In-Action Recovery and Identification Project to ask the Legislature's budget committee to release $360,000 over the next two fiscal years to fund searches for Wisconsin soldiers missing around the world.

The researchers, who specialize in archaeology and genetics, have been working with the U.S. Department of Defense since 2013 to find and identify missing U.S. soldiers. They've identified three soldiers so far, all killed in France during World II, and are searching for a fourth soldiers' remains in northern Europe, according to the project's website.

About 1,500 soldiers from Wisconsin have disappeared in action since World War II but the team isn't free to go after them, project officials say. The team takes its assignments and funding from the DOD, which means the team can't go after Wisconsin soldiers unless the department assigns one to them. State money would give the team the flexibility to search for Wisconsin's own, project officials say.

The Senate approved the measure on a 33-0 vote. The bill next goes to the state Assembly.