Picking Up the Pieces of Slain Troops Lives

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by armchair_jihad, Oct 7, 2006.

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  1. Good piece in todays Washington Post, not really 'UK headline current affairs' but thought provoking.

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Spread across several tables in a vast warehouse here are the pieces of one soldier's life.

    This is the Joint Personal Effects Depot, a pair of warehouses on this base northeast of Baltimore that serve as the military's main repository for the possessions of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within days of troops' deaths in action, their clothes, pictures and books and everything else that defined their lives on the battlefield wind up here.

    All documents, letters, data drives and photographs are carefully examined in a secret environment to make sure that nothing classified returns home, and also to make sure that nothing untoward is left for parents, spouses and children. Pornography, for example, is removed. "Human beings are human beings," Rafferty said.

    Kilmon said depot employees have found wills and messages to family members on computer drives, including an audiotape one soldier made for his child, who was not yet born when he recorded the message. Sometimes workers have to walk off the line to gather their emotions.

    In full

  2. Whilst I was moved by the respect shown by the employees in the warehouse, somehow I don't think FEDEXing, someone's effects back to the family is showing a proper mark of respect.

    How the hell are they going to react when the FEDEX man turns up? what happens if you are out and the FEDEX man leaves a number of notes asking you to report to the Depot to collect?

    We are not talking about shipping groceries or machine parts here, it's part of people's lives. I hope to god that our military ever get to this stage.

    The posessions should be sorted out by the soldier's comrades or immediate chain of command. Their freinds would probably want to do this anyway. They should make an appointment to do deliver the effects and perhaps arrange for other relatives or friends to be there to provide support.

    They should be delivered to the family preferably by one of their comrades, if not someone in the service who has experience in dealing with this sort of thing. Perhaps a local member of the American Legion ??

    but not the b100dy FEDEX man

    I am devastated that a country that normally shows much more respect to their servicemen and women then we do here, can treat the KIA's next of kin like this. :evil:
  3. Aye, all the large things are done with great sympathy and care.. the packing of kit , cleaning of it, sanitisation, repacking of kit.. all the big yet unimportant maybe, things to do with the process.. Yet come the small act with the biggest impact, it's all down to the FEDEX guy.


    In defence of the US system, they do, most definately, do things differently to our own methods. Hell, they put Jam on Peanut Butter inside a Sarnie.. We look with disgust at such a thing! Maybe the same applies here to the methods they use of dealing with KIA soldiers kit. :?
  4. http://www.pulitzer.org/year/2006/feature-photography/works/

    I stumbled on this link on a photography forum, it shows Pullitzer prize winning photography "Awarded to Todd Heisler of the Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colo., for his haunting, behind-the-scenes look at funerals for Colorado Marines who return from Iraq in caskets. "

    Emotional stuff.

  5. Very :(
  6. Not to sound too poofy, but that has just brought me to tears. :-(
  7. The whole article and photos was published in Sunday Times Magazine about 4 Months ago.

    Well writen and sympathetic. Powerful photos. Tragic.
  8. chrisg46

    chrisg46 LE Book Reviewer

    Jesus Christ, what a heartbreaking story.
    The US Marine Major is a top bloke, but i wouldnt want his job. it seems wrong that the fallen should come back in freight though.
    i'll say this for the Yanks though, the civvies treat their military with awesome respect (it seems). I cant imagine a plane load of Easy Jetters waiting patiently while a british casualty is removed...
  9. The Major deserves some sort of official recognition - I can't imagine a worse job, and he's obviously good at it. As for the pictures, it's that one with the sand from Iwo Jima that makes the series timeless...
  10. Christ, you're not on your own there.
  11. I hate to say it but in the civilian market this is a regular occurence. Many of the fallen who are repatriated to the country may be moved on to their own families towns for further ceremony and will generally travel by aircraft. They are placed in a/c units in the same manner that cargo would be shipped.

    A sad sight to see considering the ultimate sacrifice made by these men and women.

    It pains me to see it happening but the rules will not allow us to do any differently. The rules do not even allow an escort by colleagues or even family to the aircraft. We are also required to wrap the coffins in black polythene to effectively 'disguise' the contents so that any passengers on the aircraft are not 'upset' by seein a coffin loaded in the cargo hold.

    I certainly believe far more respect should be shown for these people. A fact that my totally civvy counterparts cannot even begin to understand here.

    Edited to add, that on receipt of the remains they are fork lifted around the warehouse and stored like any other piece of freight, :twisted: and then on reaching the destination they are generally forklifted out of the warehouse into a private ambulance and on many occassions with family members watching. I can think of nothing that shows such a high level of disrespect for the individual and their family.
  12. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    The Canadians and Yank public have us beaten without a doubt in the manner in which they respect their fallen!
  13. Oh yeah-see the post above yours, Ugly.
  14. As a 'civvy' they took up arms and fell in my name, and should be given the ultimate respect for the heavy price they have paid. Very moving photographs. Ok the yanks may not have got all of the protocals right, but they seem further down the road than we are in the UK when paying respects.
  15. I read this article this morning and found it moving and the care taken with personal effects is really good but agree that FEDEXing is wrong. Still it compares favourably to the way the kit of the soldiers who died at Deepcut was delivered to their parents which was described in evidence to the Commons Defence Select Committee in what was an equally moving session here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmdfence/63/41201p04.htm

    For those without the time to click on the link, this is one of the fathers speaking about the return of his son’s possessions.

    “We got a knock at the door, and it was the same chap who informed me that James had died. There were two cardboard boxes dumped in my hall and the chap just left after about a minute and a half. We opened the boxes. There was no inventory to tell us what was in the boxes. We were just absolutely shocked when we opened the boxes because it looked like somebody had just taken all of James's belongings and thrown them in the box. There was a CD player thrown into the box, all of his pockets had been turned inside out in all of his clothes, his watches were thrown in the box, they were not wrapped. His mother had just done his laundry the day that he died and it looked like somebody had actually used James's towels to clean the floor before they were sent back to us. You could actually see the boot mark on the towel.”

    From the sound of 570mils post, the bodies of our boys killed in Iraq/Afghanistan are treated better. Astonishing that US coffins are covered in black plastic rather than the stars and stripes.