After 18 Years & With All Due Respect: As The Families Wish...
Published: April 13 2009
And as Associated Press and NBC News reported...
After An 18 Year Ban
The Pentagon's 18-year ban on media covering the return of fallen U.S. service members ended with a solemn ceremony for the arrival of a flag-draped casket of an airman felled in Afghanistan. After receiving permission from family members, the military opened Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to the media for the return of the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers. Myers' family was the first to be asked under a new Pentagon policy whether it wished to have media coverage of the arrival of a loved one at the Dover base mortuary, the entry point for service personnel killed overseas. The family agreed, but declined to be interviewed or photographed.
For just the second time in 18 years that members of the media were allowed to witness the solemn ritual surrounding the return of remains of fallen U.S. service members. Army Spc. Israel Candelaria Mejias remains returned in a large metal transfer case, covered with an American flag. An eight-person team carry team marched into the back of the cavernous C-17, where several more soldiers and airman stood at attention. The carry team paused as a military chaplain said a quiet blessing and then they carefully raised the transfer case.
The stories were supposed to be about the media finally gaining access to the solemn dignified transfers at Dover Air Force Base. But in a brief moment we saw that the story was not about the media at all. It was about honoring the heroes who sacrifice their lives to serve us all.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt