As Memorial Day passes by I wonder how many understand what takes place when a service member dies while serving his country, especially when they die while deployed. There is a team that makes sure they are returned home safely and honorably.
Part of the job of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, which is made up of members of all branches of the military, they take their jobs seriously. They will make sure the deceased service member is taken care of with honor and respect before returning them home to their families. The uniform is perfect with ribbons placed correctly and devices brightly polished. The shirt is ironed with no loose threads hanging off of it, then the uniform is inspected. The deceased is taken care of being properly dressed, in the proper size uniform, with proper rank, patches, awards and decorations, and ready to pass any and all inspections. This is the center’s mission, it is done out of respect for the deceased service member and for their family.
There is an escort from the same branch of service that travels with the remains of the deceased member, they bring the body home to it’s final destination and see that they are properly given back to the family. This member properly takes care of his own uniform so that he, himself, is honoring the deceased. He is to hold the highest standards of conduct and courtesy. The escort will inventory all of personal effects of the deceased and will see that the family receives them. They escort the body on and off the plane or train, to the funeral home or place of rest. He is to make sure the remains travel feet first when being transported from one place to another except on an aircraft when the head of the casket is towards the nose of the aircraft, to prevent damage during take off and landing. He then supervises the unloading of the remains and renders a hand salute as the remains are unloaded from the aircraft. The escort must compare the head card that is affixed to the head portion of the shipping container to the identity with the information he is carrying and he hand carries the interment flag during the escort mission. Before the funeral home takes responsibility of the deceased member, the escort removes the head envelope and gives it to the director. Then assists the director in removing the casket from the shipping container to inspect it for damage.
Before the casket is loaded into the hearse the escort drapes the interment flag on the casket with the stars over the left shoulder of the remains, he will follow the hearse to the funeral home and remove the flag, followed with an inspection of the casket and then inspecting the uniform of the deceased to make sure decorations and remains have arrived safely.
“Lest We Forget: Ode of a Fallen Comrade” closes with these words:
“I will never have what others have; it never was to be, but I made a sacrifice in the cause of liberty.
You have your normal lives to live, and that’s as it should be, but when you have some leisure time, please pause and think of me.”
with respect for the family we share this beautiful video:
written by Sunshine and Nancy originally shared in 2009