Still Trying to Make Hay.with the “Shipping Fallen Soldiers as Freight” Meme

Last December I got into a urination contest with Jack Cluth, proprietor of The People’s Republic of Seabrook over his apparent outrage that, well as the original story put it:

Family Upset Over Soldier’s Body Arriving As Freight

Bodies Sent To Families On Commercial Airliners

SAN DIEGO — There’s controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag — greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners — stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew John Holley, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

You can read the rest of the piece for yourself. There’s even a video link of the story apparently showing a body being unloaded from a commercial aircraft.

Jack was outraged. OUTRAGED!

OK, let’s imagine something for just a second. Let’s say that Bill Clinton was still in office. And let’s say that the bodies of dead American soldiers were being shipped to their families as freight, stuffed in the cargo hold of a plane along with the luggage?

If Republicans were to get wind of this sort of Democratic perfidy, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH, AND THE PEALS OF RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION that would be raining down upon a Democratic Administration? And guess what? They’d have a damn good point. So why then is it acceptable for Our Glorious Leader’s Administration to be shipping the bodies of fallen soldiers as they would Aunt Ethel’s luggage? It’s simple, really; because Democrats simply lack the cojones to to raise Hell and demand that this disrespect stop IMMEDIATELY.

Yes, Jack was outraged that the Democrats hadn’t raised hell over this disrespect, thus getting themselves some much-needed positive press. After all, Clinton (blessed be his name) would NEVER have done anything so disrespectful!

But he did. The government always has. Bodies are shipped as air cargo via commercial carrier – just like they did your great-aunt Melba when it was time to send her body home. Was that disrepectful of her?

John Holley, father of Matthew Holly, protested:

What do you mean civilian aircraft? Why isn’t he flying into Miramar or North Island and having the military handle, you know, the military can handle the military. I mean he’s a war hero for crying out loud. If it was the President or some general or somebody like that, this wouldn’t be occurring.

No, probably not. But your son isn’t a general or the president. He’s a soldier. As I explained in the earlier post, bodies are shipped home via air cargo – with military escort. This is done for several reasons. First, I imagine, is economy. Should the military send all remains to the nearest military air base, as Mr. Holley asked? Should they be on a dedicated cargo aircraft? Wouldn’t it be just as “disrespectful” to ship the body on a military plane otherwise full of spare parts, mail, or other cargo? What if the parents of the fallen soldier don’t live anywhere near a military air base? Or should the military dedicate a C-37 (the military version of the Grumman Gulfstream V) for the deceased and his entourage? Wouldn’t somebody then complain about the astronomical expense?

The fact is, soldiers are shipped home honorably. Your grandmother may go back to old Virginnie as air cargo to be met by the local undertaker, but our honored military dead get an escort to ensure that they are treated properly. Noplace is this better described than by The Rocky Mountain News in their absolutely outstanding and emotional piece “Final Salute,” which I strongly recommend you read if you haven’t already. Be prepared to spend some time, and bring a hanky.

Well, once again, the “disrespectful treatment” meme has raised its ugly head. On Wednesday the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle published a “guest essay” decrying this same practice. Cynthia Hoag penned the essay after reporting that she saw a flag-draped coffin come down the baggage conveyor out of the cargo hold, under the observation of the escorting soldier, and then she watched it

disappear into the cart with the rest of the luggage. The waiting soldier stayed with the casket and rode in the cart as they pulled away.

She was shocked! Shocked, I say!

Well, her essay stirred up some controversy. In today’s edition there was a story saying that the Army was probing the report, but Northwest Airlines was saying they did everything according to procedure. The most interesting thing about the story, though, wasn’t the story. It was the comments. Like this one by “Reader11722”:

This administration doesn’t care how the soldiers are treated when they are alive (i.e., improper vests and inadequate protection on Humvees), why would they care in death? This lady is probably 100% correct and the misdeeds of this administration are about to worsen. However, Iraq is a bloody diversion. As the army attacks Iraq, the US gov’t erodes rights at home by suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like “America Deceived” from Amazon, rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier by Mossad) and the US will invade Iran (on behalf of Israel) costing more American lives.

Yes, the moonbats were attracted to the light! (And make sure you take a gander at the book he’s hawking.) Another, “rwb100”:

Boy. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!! The lady was appalled at seeing a flag draped coffin on a baggage cart? What I want to know is why she wasn’t appalled at the fact that the soldier was even in the coffin in the first place. If you want to be appalled at something, be appalled at that!! Be appalled that our fearless leader, King George The Pea Brained, had the audacity, tumerity, and unmitigated gall to get us into this senseless war in the first place. And as for one comment I read about treating our “fallen military heroes” this way, well, as far as I am concerned, anyone who voluntarily signs up for the military, knowing full well that it just might mean having to go to war, is an idiot, not a hero. Especially those who volunteered after this war was started, with the express intent of going to Iraq. War is never the right answer to any problem, anywhere, anytime. Never!!! Now I know all of you red state republican flag waving lemmings out there probably have steam spewing out of your ears right about now, but if you would all just pull your heads out of your collective anal orifices and take a good look around, you will no doubt see as clearly as I do that you have all been sold a bill of goods by the current administration. George Bush is by far the stupidest president that this country has ever had, not to mention the most dangerous. By comparison, he makes Nixon look great! Maybe you remember immediately after 9/11 how America had the sympathies of pretty much the entire world. Everyone was in our corner then, but Bush has, in just a few short years, completely reversed world opinion about us. We are hated and reviled the world over, thanks to the backwards, mean-spirited, and paranoid policies of the Bush administration, and the sooner we all wake up and tell them NO MORE!!!!! , the better off we all will be. So again , I say WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!! End this bloody war now, and then we won’t have to see any more flag draped coffins on conveyor belts, baggage carts, or anywhere else for that matter. Now, what a wonderful world that would be!

Had to archive that one for posterity.

On a more sober note, MJL posted:

Last December I was waiting to board a flight from Atlanta to San Antonio. I looked out the window at my plane and noticed a large box being loaded into the cargo hold. I wondered what it was and then noticed a soldier standing at attention, watching the box move up the conveyor. I looked around…it was cold, freezing rain outside, and typically hectic inside the airport terminal. I couldn’t see anyone who had noticed or was watching besides the soldier, the baggage handlers, and myself. After we were in the air the first announcement the pilot made was regarding the fallen soldier’s remains and the accompanying soldier. In this case I saw nothing but quiet, subdued respect.

“Mudflap” posted:

I worked for 20 years as a customer service agent. I have worked on the ramp, inside, the warehouse and baggage service. The coffin is too big to put in a regular baggage cart. It is brought to the warehouse where freight is prepared for shipping. It is put on a open cart and does not carry extra baggage, unless it was the military’s member luggage that was accompanying the coffin. It is taken over to the freight house where the vehicle can pick it up. It has to come off the plane on the conveyor belt. It is heavy and long, and the plane sits off the ground quite a bit. There also has to be enough people to be able to lift it on and off the cart. I find the story hard to believe. In all my years at the airport, nothing but respect is paid to a coffin weather it be civilian or military.

“USAF2T2” chimed in:

As an Air Force Transportation Specialist, we handle the human remains of fallen soldiers within specific guidelines ordered by Air Force Regulations. They do return in “transfer cases” but are carefully placed level, with the heads stowed towards the nose of the aircraft – the head ALWAYS higher than the feet. NO OTHER CARGO is loaded on top of remains’ transfer cases. When they arrive at a terminal such as Dover AFB, human remains are stored in a secure area and separated from other cargo. At that point the shipment is made available to the receiving individual or agency.

So from the military’s point of view, as a RULE, we handle all with care and respect.
Do they also travel in commercial baggage area? Of course they would with they(sic) same rules applied. BTW, the baggage area is not a bad place to travel in (many pets travel that way) and when you consider how annoying some passengers are, it’s probably more preferable.

At any rate, the receiving agency is responsible for the remains once released. Since the reporter of this “story” did a poor job of doing his journalistic duty of investigating and getting the facts, all we have is a “story” which, as we know, can be as fictional as “The 3 Little Pigs”. But then had he dug into the story and found the truth, we wouldn’t be here on this site reading about it. Such is modern news, entertainment (to sell more papers/ad space) at the expense of a few.

May God Bless the family of Army Sgt. 1st Class Tony Knier especially at this time of the year when the rest of us sit around the tree and enjoy our families. Sgt. Knier truly sacrificed his life (as others) so that our children and we can continue OUR traditions and way of life; not one forced upon us by radical Islamics.

Now there’s a voice of reason. Finally, I’ll select the post by “gvenema” though there are pages more:

I don’t understand the outrage, Beenthere is correct.

I worked the Ramp 10 years ago in Minneapolis. There are no special carts for Human Remains. There is no special unloading crane painted red white and blue just for military personnel. The ramp agents have to use the equipment they have. How else are the remains supposed to be removed from the aircraft?

The outrage is over the remains being unloaded and placed into a cart.

From the article:
Northwest Airlines, on which the casket was flown, said in a statement tonight that a military escort stood at attention as three airline agents transferred the casket from the aircraft to an empty cart, then closed the privacy curtains. Northwest said it complied with all military and airline procedures.

There isn’t even a real disagreement on what happened. I guess people expect a band playing stars and stripes to follow around every casket until the funeral.

That’s how it appears to me.

It also appears that this is just another opportunity for the Left and Right to scream at each other. Reading the six pages of commentary, that’s much the impression I got. This comment by “aki009” said it well:

I have to say that we live in a day and age where I find myself having to question all the data that is being presented to me from essentially any source. I had to add photography to the list of things to question thanks to Reuters, UPI and others with their contributors who took a free hand to “enhance” images. Unfortunately such doubt can cause something genuine to fall into the questionable category.

Perhaps some day various forms of media will regain my trust.

In the meantime, ill-educated swipes from the left _and_ the right simply undermine any remaining trust I have in any form of communication from either side. Though from my perspective it seems that the left fabricates a significantly larger volume of “information” than the right.

Doesn’t it, though?

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