Respect for Fallen Service Members: Improvements Needed at Dover Air Force Base

Those of you that have read my posts here before can probably sense my pride in and respect for the United States military and the men who have and still do so proudly serve our great country; I have been all over the world in my travels and there is no place that comes close to the USA, so I consider myself very lucky to have been born here. You may also have read that I proudly served in the United States Air Force in the 80’s and kick myself all the time for not making it a career; few moments in life have ever made me feel prouder than graduating basic training and marching in unison with my fellow graduates to “off we go into the wild blue yonder.” But I must say that pride took a severe hit after someone brought to my attention how the Air Force boldly disrespected the remains of some 274 fallen service members several years ago.

The incident was first reported on by the Washington Post back in 2011 and it is surprising that it flew somewhat under the radar of what was considered major news at the time. It may be somewhat old news too, but I cannot find any information on whether the situation has been corrected or not; so, in that case, something this severe should never become old news.

CoffinApparently the Air Force was in charge of repatriating the remains of some body fragments with the fallen service members they were likely to be associated with and was having some difficulty doing this task because many of the fragments were small. I am quite sure this was a tedious task, but one that also must be attempted to be undertaken out of respect to those who paid the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ for their country. Some of these body parts involved soldiers who had been victims of roadside bombings and IED explosions and I can only imagine how gruesome and fragmented some of these remains might have been. When this process became too involved, some of the body fragments were subsequently incinerated which I have no problem with. The appalling part of all this is that, after the incineration process was complete, the fragments were disrespectfully and unceremoniously dumped in a regular landfill.

This all happened at the military’s main mortuary facility located at Dover Air Force base in Delaware. A place that got little notoriety and attention during the Gulf Wars by the Bush administration because there was a blackout on media coverage; bodies of fallen service members were not allowed to be shown upon their arrival back home. The body fragment dumping was admitted by the Air Force to have taken place over the years from 2003 – 2008. They said it was done out of necessity because of the large amount of unidentified body fragments that were beginning to stack up at the facility.

Now, any unidentified remains are still incinerated but are now more respectfully buried at sea – which is better but I think there is still a more proper way to do it. It may not be feasible to correct the mistakes at the landfill, but it should be closed and appropriately marked for respect. Get rid of the burials at sea for the unknown remains and build a place that is similar to the tomb of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ and give it all the respect from our nation that goes along with that. This was a huge mistake by our government that showed gross disrespect for our fallen service members and is not something that anyone should ever be allowed to handle so callously again -no matter what the circumstances.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith
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