The Dutch contribution to the Ukraine repatriation mission
Defence personnel were involved in many ways in the action taken following the crash. Together with experts of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team (LTFO), they searched the debris field for bodies and personal effects of the victims. They flew the C-130 Hercules planes that carried the remains from Ukraine, served in the bearer parties that carried the dozens of coffins and recovered pieces of aircraft wreckage.
At Korporaal van Oudheusden Barracks in Hilversum, defence personnel assisted LTFO members in identifying the victims. Military and civilian personnel of the Ministry of Defence also contributed in many other, less visible ways. All efforts in this regard were aimed at ensuring a worthy farewell for each victim.
The repatriation mission began in July 2014 and was discontinued at the beginning of August 2014 because the area in which the debris field was located was unsafe. From that time, assessments were carried out on a daily basis to determine what was possible. If the situation allowed, a small mission team would recover remains and personal effects. Pieces of aircraft wreckage were recovered and brought to the Netherlands in the autumn.
Following a comprehensive assessment of the situation in March 2015, the repatriation mission was resumed in April. Working with local staff, the team made every effort to recover remains, personal effects and pieces of wreckage and bring them to the Netherlands. Members of the recovery mission were also given access to the northwestern part of the debris field. The search team could not previously work in that particular area because it had been too dangerous.
Reconstruction of the aircraft
The pieces of aircraft wreckage were brought to a hangar at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, where experts of the Dutch Safety Board reconstructed part of the aircraft to gain greater insight into the cause of the crash.
The Dutch Safety Board presented its findings on 13 October 2015. The most important conclusion was that Flight MH17 had been brought down by the detonation of a 9N314M warhead launched by a Buk missile system that was located in eastern Ukraine at the time of the launch.
This is a provisional description of the mission provided by the Ministry of Defence’s media centre. The Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH) will publish a final version at a later date.