Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Endorsed Items

Our Top 10 products in use EVERY day while boondocking or gate guarding.


All ads other than Amazon have been removed. Thank you for using my Amazon links like the one above for your online shopping.



The Wreckage of War

Father’s Day —  June 17, 2012

My Best Girl Cait got orders for Afghanistan.  I finished up that post back in May with these words:

I am holding out hope that perhaps something will change radically as far as our presence in Afghanistan.  Since it is an election year, I guess anything could happen and quicker withdrawal would be just fine by me.

The ‘anything’  I had fervently hoped for did happen.  Her orders to Afghanistan were canceled.  I cannot describe the weight that was lifted off my shoulders with that news.

With the cancellation of her orders, I guess that made her available for deployment once more. The Air Force cut orders for her to spend the next 6 months with Mortuary Affairs at Dover AFB in Dover,DE.

Cait’s assignment is to meet each flight and film the dignified transfer. 

A solemn dignified transfer of remains is conducted upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del., from the aircraft to a transfer vehicle to honor those who have given their lives in the service of our country. The vehicle then moves the fallen to the port mortuary.

Dignified Transfer Dover AFB Dover,DE

A dignified transfer is the process by which, upon the return from the theater of operations to the United States, the remains of fallen military members are transferred from the aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to the port mortuary. The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service. A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member’s service presides over each dignified transfer.The sequence of the dignified transfer starts with the fallen  being returned to Dover by the most expedient means possible, which may mean a direct flight from theater, or a flight to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and then to Dover. It is the Department of Defense’s policy, and AFMAO’s , mission, to return America’s fallen to their loved ones as quickly as possible. Once the aircraft lands at Dover, service-specific carry teams remove the transfer cases individually from the aircraft and move them to a waiting mortuary transport vehicle. Once all of the transfer cases have been taken to the transport vehicles, they are then taken to the port mortuary.

She meets the planes day or night, weekends, holidays, whenever and they film the dignified transfer which is presented to the family of the fallen warrior. It was my original intent to explain more about the process as Cait has explained it to me.   But that would not be the real message.

The real message is why are we ignoring the return of these heroes?  Christ, it upsets me.  Cait tells me besides the military transfer team and family members, the tarmac is usually deserted as the transfer team marches in slow step to the waiting vehicle.   No media cameras, no photographers, no reporters.  I was shocked to learn she is working most every day.  The  young Army Specialist from Illinois that was married just 3 months ago; his young widow and his mother were on the tarmac.   The pilot and co-pilot of the Kiowa helicopter shot down by an RPG;  the pilot leaves a wife and 2 small children to grieve.

Brian William’s did not lead off the Nightly News with details about their sacrifice; you know damned well Diane Sawyer chose not to report it as well.   How can that be? Why is it not news worthy enough to warrant a mention at least?    I  will tell you why……… We don’t want to know.  10 years of war has left the country weary and jaded.   Out of sight, out of mind. God , how horrible is that?  The Army Specialist and Kiowa pilots are  to no lesser degree  DEAD because we failed to properly acknowledge and honor their ultimate sacrifice.

I tried to close out this post many times over and I just cannot get it right.  I railed at our indifference.  I cried over loss of young lives because of politics and oil.  I tried to put the words to paper and failed.   I went back and re-read an email Cait sent me.  Let her finish the post.

“We bring them back, not for them- for they are already gone. But for the ones that are left behind, the ones that struggle to understand their death, the reason for their death, and somehow move on with their lives. Some days it’s one, some days it’s two, and today- it was three.

Three men, ranging greatly in age, rank, and experience. But three men who came home together, on the same aircraft, in the same cold metal cases, with the same flag  draped and secured tightly against the wind of an incoming storm.

There’s a small gasp in the crowd of family members, as the k-loader starts to lower, bringing closer an inevitable goodbye in which the transfer is the first step of many. It’s their first glimpse of a man that’s been absent for too long, a man who’s missed birthdays, holidays and the day-to-day grind of American family life that so many of us take for granted.

A team of young strapping men go forward, retrieving the case with poise and precision. And slowly, methodically, ceremoniously the cases are loaded one by one into the van that will bring them to a team of soldiers that will separate the death from duty, the man from the trauma and the soldier from the end.

They will clean, they will sort, and they will remove the rags of combat to replace them with a dress uniform that no one will ever see. They will take blood stained ID cards, money, pictures, hand written notes, and coins that once jingled in the pockets of living and breathing human beings and render them suitable to be returned to a family who will cherish these things.

I am not one of these honorable men or women who complete this gruesome task. I am merely a girl behind her camera, struggling with the honor of a mission, the guilt of sacrifice, and the weight of wanting to do more. I am a girl whose muscle fibers groan underneath the immense weight of a transfer case. I am a girl who feels too many emotions, and I am a girl who will not fail in any aspect. Not the smallest detail. Not this time. Not ever.”

Cait said ‘Dad, they have the same things in their pockets that I do.’   Where do our children find the strength to bear this mighty burden?

The fallen will be accompanied to their final rest, honored by a military escort  every step of the way.  It is my fervent hope their communities turn out to honor these returning heroes.  Words should be published in the local paper, streets should be lined with flags and throngs of people, heads bowed in respect,  standing silent as the hearse passes to the cemetery.  I would hope it is so.
End Note:  Loving County by Charlie Robison  from the Life of the Party cd.  One of Cait’s long time faves.   I can hear her now in the car ‘ How about listening to a little Charlie Dad?’

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (17 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
The Wreckage of War, 9.8 out of 10 based on 17 ratings
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...






15 comments to The Wreckage of War

  • Joel

    This has been going on a long, long time, Andy:

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1102-08.htm

    At least now there is no longer a media ban.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Andrew

      No need for your admonishments this morning Joel. You are preaching to the choir. Most of the war news has been scoured from mainstream media the past 8 months even more thoroughly than usual and it is because we are in the middle of a presidential election.

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Cait

      What good is inviting media out (the families choose whether to allow civilian media the option of attending the DT) if no one cares enough to show up?

      Can you imagine being the parent and checking a box a few hours after notification that says “I allow full media coverage” and then one photographer from the AP shows up?

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Joel

    “one photographer from the AP shows up?”

    Cait, most newspapers use AP for their national news feed. Few Newspapers have their own national reporters. If AP covers it, that’s coverage for the MSM. Welcome to the 21st century.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
    • Cait

      True. And it’s funny how back at my home base, I gave one quote to the AP on a supposed “hot” news story back in the fall and my name was picked up around the world.

      And funny how the last 4 names that have come across my board here in Dover have gotten picked up by hometown newspapers, and that’s it–and most of those use a file photo from the families and not a photo from the DT.

      Priorities & perspective, Mr. Joel.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Jim walden

    Great post. Thank you. I know I am guilty of “out of sight, out of mind” it’s good to remind ourselves.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  • Warren Zeman

    Andy thanks for writing about this good work that Cait is doing. I am glad to hear that she isnt going to the sandbox and is staying stateside. Can you please pass along my most profound thanks for her service and for doing her duty in such an important task.

    Warren

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Andrew

      Thanks Warren.

      I think you just took care of thanking her as she is most likely reading these comments. I would be surprised if she does not reply to you directly.

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Cait

      Appreciate ya, Warren. But my duty is teeny tiny in comparison to the sacrifice I see everyday.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Warren Zeman

        Your duty is to the ones who sacrificed most of all.

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Leroy Mullins

    Thanks for writing this article. We appreciate you and your daughter but most of all, the one who served our country and paid the greatest price of all.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Joel

    “Priorities & perspective, Mr. Joel.”

    I haven’t the foggiest idea what that’s supposed to mean.

    US priorities went missing when we embarked on a military occupation of Afghanistan and the invasion and military occupation of Iraq. From any reasonable ‘perspective,’ both have been a tragic waste of American lives and treasure.

    My priority is to see that American lives and treasure are not wasted on military adventurism. My perspective is that those who visit violence on others without regard to national interest betray our service men and women.

    What are your priorities and perspectives, Ms. Cait?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Cait

      Look Joel– I hate arguing. I especially hate arguing with someone that I think has the same viewpoint as me.

      I don’t get paid nearly enough to debate on US foreign policy or American military strategy. That is for guys your age & my father’s age. I get paid to do a mission.

      The priorities and perspective comment was about the civilian media. Being a journalist– I understand the slimy ways in which they operate, and it’s disgusting. That’s what the original point was. When was the last time you saw a story about an American servicemember? I mean- A REAL STORY, not just a blurp about how many were killed this week, or how the rate of suicide in the military is sky rocketing. The last REAL story I remember seeing was on the soldier that went on the killing rampage.

      When an Afghan pilot went on a shooting rampage inside an ops building in Kabul last year and killed 8 Americans, I don’t remember the same coverage.

      When you google Dover, or AF Mortuary Affairs– you’re gonna get the stories about the scandal. The only point I was trying to get across is the media reporting the real stories, instead of portraying this war as being practically over. No more, no less.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Bryan

    Our son returned from Afghanistan recently and I cannot tell you the relief we felt when he returned to his family physically unharmed.

    Thank you Cait.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  • How soon -(they/we) forget…thank you, Cait..we needed more of you in 1968…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>