Volume 48, Issue 6 (November 2003)
The Gander Disaster: Dental Identification in a Military Tragedy
The authors record the contributions of dentistry to the identification of victims of one of the most significant disasters in aviation and U.S. military history-the December 1985 crash of a DC-8 charter airliner near Gander, Newfoundland (now known as Newfoundland and Labrador), Canada, which killed 248 Army personnel and 8 crewmembers. Most of the dental records of the military victims were destroyed in the crash, and, as a result, this loss hampered dental identification. Nevertheless, dental identification was the primary means of identification for many because a very high percentage of the bodies were severely burned and fragmented. Many phases of the U.S. identification efforts have been reported, but the dental-investigation aspects have been mentioned only in passing. Therefore, this article documents the dental team's organization, methodology, and a variety of remarkable problems that the team encountered.