In the news: Gates orders review of ban on photos of coffins.
[This is a cross-posted diary at VetVoice.com]
How do feel about coverage of your Wars? Does it even effect you the least bit? Are you aware when one of your local service men/women has passed through to his or her family? Do you think this media coverage could help improve this Nation’s awareness on what is really happening? Your answers are HUGE & answers KEY. If you agree/disagree w/anything please let me know. Thanks, Dan
(Before ya do just want to say I firmly believe in families right to privacy on this issue.)
Finally some dialogue on this incredibly important issue. For almost 20 years our proud men & women who have given everything, including their life, to this country have been flown in the dark of night never to seen by a TV camera or reporter. Anyone one of us who has handled one these coffins or handed off a service men/women to their families can tell how moving of a moment this really is. To somehow not let the media see & not have public awareness has completely desensitized the public’s view on what is really happening both good & bad. In such Wars as WWII the dead were honored & greeted by both media & the public.
Take very special pride in this issue. Activated all of 2005 overseas & some home duty time in New Jersey. When word came down that one or more of our men/women were killed it was a snap to attention moment that your night was focused on one mission: PAYING ULTIMATE RESPECT TO THIS ONE OF YOUR OWN WHEN THEY CAME THROUGH OUR TRANSITION POINT. Cooler was in tact, ice was in place for the re-ice of the body & everyone in position for the transition of the coffin from the floor of one aircraft to becoming palletized cargo on another. All this done in unison by several sections of a very busy Air Force Base. I thought in my head back then & will do until I pass how important it was not to screw up walking w/coffin. Not screw up tightening this men or women to floor of our Aircraft. And especially not forget to shed at least a couple tears once that plane was turned & heading back to the US to his/her family. All this said after doing all this work, putting in all the effort, stopping just as important of blood supply & Medivac missions, you would think in your mind these guys/gals come home to absolute respect. Simple answer is no.
I returned to the States after ’05 & experienced one of the most embarrassing episodes I think I could of ever seen of this past Administration. I’m sure they did a Super Dupe job to top it but it’s still etched in my mind on how to respect our dead once they return.
I was working in Ohio at our base when we received an URGENT call from Columbus saying prepare for an HR being flown in from Dover AFB. This kind of call NEVER HAPPENS at this base. The frantic look in everyone’s eyes was surprising but the mode to action was impressive. We knew we had a new mission instead of eating lunch, watching practice Air drops & then going home at 4 like everyday. This was for real, everyone was ready w/o any preparation, a call for help from one of your own to get them to their family.
As the next hours unfolded the more information came in, which is always good for any preparation but which is also so embarrassing for this former Administration. Our plane with our hero from Ohio was being diverted directly by the Pentagon back to Dover because our President & Air Force One were clogging the Air Space in Columbus because the President was due to land at some point in the day to give a speech. The reason for the URGENT PREPARE for HR call did become more apparent now for the chance he really wasn’t heading back to Dover.
With some BATTLING from the family in Columbus AGAINST THE PEOPLE WHO CALLED THE DIRECT DIVERT “BACK TO DOVER WE WILL JUST GO AHEAD & LAND YOUR SON TOMORROW” crowd, swift work from a local Congressional official & determination of our proud leadership out of Mansfield, OH (who to do this day awe me getting in front Congress with such strength & leadership to stop our BRAC), our soldier was returned to his family.
As the family started making their way on base after the 70 miles or so drive from Columbus the mood all of sudden became somber. Without our Honor Guard to present the coffin, our department was tasked for this special job to hand this child to his mother & father. Dressed in the uniform of the day, our normal BDU’s, we escorted the coffin to his parents & family with duty, honor & fighting back every tear that wanted to pop just thinking “thank the Lord you did not end up back in Dover one more day removed from the people who meant the most to you.”
I tell this story because whether right or wrong, death or ultimate triumph, the public also needs to see how special of a process this is for us, as servicemen/women, once your involved with every detail. Having a lost service member to your Nation is no different then losing one of your local firefighters or cops in service. We’ve now gone through & seen how so out of touch some people can be with their heroes who have given everything. It’s time to move on from that & really engage in the fact that every member who has given their all deserves as much TV, news & respect from their Administration as well as the American people’s time, as any good coverage. Their families along with the Men/Women who so proudly served with them are banking on it.