Matt Chipman, Sales Manager – Western U.S., Gatan/EDAX
Over the summer, I have been reflecting on the greater impact of my sales experience with EDAX and Gatan. The research our customers do tends to make life better for all of us collectively. I am proud to be a part of that, but often it’s difficult to see immediate impacts in the lives of people.
Some years ago, I was calling on a laboratory in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that does forensic anthropology in an attempt to account for missing service personnel from the US military. This was close to my heart because my father was missing in action before I was even two years old and was never accounted for. This lab didn’t end up purchasing my equipment, but it was well-equipped for the types of samples they would receive. They would use SEM-EDS to analyze aircraft crash site debris or anything that could be recovered that could prove the ultimate demise of U.S. soldiers. SEM-EDS plays an important role in forensic analysis by providing characteristics and compositional information of physical evidence (e.g., gunshot residue, glass and paint fragments, and explosives), which helps identify, compare, and correlate evidence to individuals, locations, or objects.
I didn’t know if any of the samples would end up being related to my father’s incident, but it was nice to know they had the tools needed and the motivation to keep searching. They indeed kept searching, and more than 50 years after the loss of his aircraft, they brought home a dog tag with my father’s name on it and a few teeth and bone fragments. The teeth positively identified my father. He is no longer missing! I am so grateful for those who never gave up looking.
I am hopeful that material from the crash site still being analyzed can positively identify the navigator who sat next to my father in the aircraft. I also hope to learn whether electron microscopy and x-ray spectroscopy was an instrumental part of this effort to sift through different kinds of evidence. I am glad to have associated with some of the many people who keep searching. This work makes lives better and can have a huge impact on individuals and families of those lost. I am honored to be a small part of research that makes all of our lives better and can have a huge impact on people we will likely never meet.