2 Valley Veterans Identified Using Mitochondrial DNA

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EDINBURG – U.S. Navy sailor Victor Patrick Tumlinson, a Rio Grande Valley native, who died in the attack at Pearl Harbor, was identified using mitochondrial DNA.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to a human genetics professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley about the process used.

“Mitochondrial DNA uniquely comes from your mother. So it travels down the maternal line and it’s fairly constant across generations," explained Dr. John Blangero, professor of human genetics. "If we extract DNA from the service member who is deceased, that would likely come from bone, we can see if he is a member of this same maternal lineage."

Army Pfc. Herschell Riggs, a Valley Korean War veteran, was identified in April using the same method.

Riggs was buried in May with full military honors in Pearsall, Texas.


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