Ex-Reservist Questions Handling Of Casket

December 1st, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Ex-Reservist Questions Handling Of Casket

Washington Post
December 1, 2006
Pg. 11

By Associated Press
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Nov. 30 -- The Army is investigating a woman's allegation that a soldier's flag-draped casket was placed in an airport baggage cart with other luggage while being transferred between flights.
"The Army is always concerned with treating all of our fallen comrades' remains with the utmost dignity and respect," spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Arata said Thursday.
Cynthia Hoag, 56, a former Army reservist, said she was waiting for a flight at Rochester International Airport on Oct. 27 when she saw the coffin taken off a commercial flight along with passengers' luggage. A uniformed soldier accompanied the coffin as it was placed in a baggage cart and transported to another flight, she said.
"At the very least, couldn't there have been a hearse to transport the fallen soldier?" Hoag asked in an essay in Tuesday's Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. "At the very least, couldn't there have been a group of soldiers to receive one of their own?
"It was a very sobering, sad experience for all of us," wrote Hoag, who said she saw the episode from a terminal window. "Please don't let this happen again to any soldier."
Her account prompted Monroe County's executive, Maggie Brooks, to write a letter asking the Pentagon to change the policy for transporting the coffins of war casualties.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith, said Hoag's description does not correlate with military procedure.
Remains of soldiers killed in Iraq are taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, then usually flown to a soldier's home area, Smith said. Military escorts accompany each flight and when a casket reaches the home area, it is met by an honor guard of two people and then transported to a funeral home, she said.
David P. Damelio, acting director of the Rochester airport, said a coffin would not fit into a cart loaded with luggage.
Calls to Hoag's home went unanswered Thursday.
December 1st, 2006  
Chief Bones
I hate to say this ... but ... I doubt this story ever happened. I have escorted more than one of my fellow warriors from the battlefield to their homes during my career ... and ... at NO TIME was a casket EVER handled in this way.

When the caskets arrived in the US, they were transferred to a military cargo aircraft, flown to the military base closest to the soldiers home, transferred to a hearse and transported to the funeral home (the casket was flag draped all the way and had the place of honor on any cart that was transporting the casket). Not one single time was a civilian aircraft used for transportation. I don't know if times have changed ... if they have and civilian aircraft are being used, then I can NOT believe that the procedures have changed all that much as far as the honor guard is concerned (there is always one and sometimes two or more military personnel with the casket at all times) ... and ... for d*mn sure the casket NEVER shared a cart with baggage.

I would be interested in anyone giving a reference to either prove (or) disprove this story. It DOES NOT ring true to me. I don't know about the honor guards that accompany caskets today ... but ... in the day, I probably would have shot the first person to try to desecrate the casket in that way and I can't believe the times have changed to the point that today's guards wouldn't take their jobs as seriously as I did.
December 1st, 2006  
TI, I don't think Chief was doubting that the story existed. He is doubting the account by the so-called witness, as I do. It remains to be seen if there is any truth to the story. It could have been a private citizen's casket. Who knows for sure? This bears further investigation.
December 1st, 2006  
Team Infidel
Very well then. I may have misread his email. Either way, I will always keep my ears to the ground.
December 2nd, 2006  
Be sure the ground is dry.
December 2nd, 2006  
Chief Bones

Topic: Was it a military casket? ...

I sent a PM to you in answer to your PM.

The gist of it was that I don't doubt you personally - I had a problem with the article itself. There are so many inaccurate stories that appear to have something to do with the Iraq mess, that have their genesis in the mistaken assumptions of people that don't have all of the facts, that I question the premise of the article.

As I have had escort duty on 5 different occasions for slain friends, I am fairly well versed with the requirements of the casket escort and the duties thereof. One of the things that was required was for me to read the relevant instructions, sign and initial a 'special' form that was then attached as a rider to my orders (along with the 'Bill of Lading' for the casket). At NO TIME was the casket ever left by itself (there was always at least one and in most cases 2 or more escorts present at all times and for sure there is absolutely NO WAY that I (or the other escorts), would EVER allow baggage to be on the same wagon/cart the casket was resting on.

My question for any of our former military members is as follows: If you were escorting a FLAG DRAPED casket, would you allow ANYONE to place baggage with the casket (or) on the casket? I know darn well you wouldn't - don't you think the military escort that would have been with this casket would feel the same as you (if it was a military casket)?

As someone else pointed out, there is a possibility that this casket was a civilian and NOT a military member.
December 2nd, 2006  
I think the fact that the "whistleblower" has been unable for comment speaks volumes as to the veracity of the story.
December 6th, 2006  
Go here for more on this: http://stripes.com/article.asp?secti...0&archive=true
December 7th, 2006  
Chief Bones
Even with this new news source, we have learned nothing that can cast light on the situation laid out in the initial article. I still have a problem believing it was a service member's casket - the escort would NOT have allowed baggage to be placed on the same carrier as the casket.

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