“Operation 85” Welcomes Renowned Genealogist Melinde Lutz Byrne
The U.S.S. Arizona “Operation 85” project is a dedicated mission, working tirelessly to uncover the stories of the brave souls who served aboard the U.S.S. Arizona and whose identities remain unknown in commingled graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It is with immense pride that we announce the addition of a new team member to our ranks, someone who is no stranger to solving the mysteries of the past, Melinde Lutz Byrne.
Byrne is not just any addition to our team; she comes to us with a pedigree few can match. She is one of the elite fifty Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, an honor that recognizes her significant contributions to the field of genealogy. Melinde’s passion for unearthing the past led her to found the Genealogical Research Certificate Program at Boston University. As its Director, she oversaw the graduation of over 5,000 students, sowing seeds of curiosity and commitment to uncovering our historical roots.
Transferring her skills to the field of forensic genealogy, Melinde founded the Forensic Genealogy Division at Bode Technology in Lorton, Virginia. In this role, she bravely undertook hundreds of human identification cases, utilizing genealogical evidence including autosomal and Y DNA. Her expertise in this field saw her verify relatives’ identities as proactive DNA donors for military remains identifications, including from the Korean conflict and a WWII casualty following the Bataan Death March.
On top of her practical accomplishments, Melinde’s scholarly contributions to the field of genealogy are substantial. She has authored over forty books and numerous peer-reviewed articles, helping to shape and guide the academic understanding of genealogy. Her credentials also include editing several state and national genealogical journals. Notably, she held a co-editorship at the National Genealogical Quarterly, where she spearheaded DNA evidence articles and voiced strong editorials on the ethical use of DNA evidence.
Having joined “Operation 85” in June, Melinde now serves as our Chief DNA Genealogist expert, representing the family members of the U.S.S. Arizona’s unknowns. In her short time with us, Melinde’s impact is already visible. She has reorganized our research team, streamlining processes and ensuring that we have the correct documentation needed by the Navy and Marines.
In a recent meeting with the DPAA, Navy, Marines, Pentagon, and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Melinde took the helm in representing the families of the U.S.S. Arizona’s unknowns. Her expertise and diplomacy shone through, further reinforcing the pivotal role she will play in our mission.
Melinde Lutz Byrne is more than just an expert in genealogy; she is a conduit for connection, a link to our shared past, and a beacon of hope for families awaiting answers. We are incredibly fortunate to have her join us in our noble endeavor. As we continue to identify the U.S.S. Arizona’s unknowns, we know that with Melinde’s expertise, our mission will be all the more successful.
Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Melinde as she steps into this important role, bringing us closer to achieving our goal of bringing peace and closure to the families of the U.S.S. Arizona’s brave crew.