Source: David McNew/Getty Images
Memorial service for a fallen soldier in Riverside, CA.
American losses in Iraq now total more than 4,000, and the process of bringing them home so that their remains can be laid to rest involves a diverse cast of characters. There's the fellow soldier who carries the bodies off the battlefield on a stretcher; the pilots that transport the fallen to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware; the mortuary workers who embalm them; the chaplain who consoles surviving friends at base camp; and the officer who hands a triangular folded flag to the grieving soldier's family. All of this culminates in the "honorable transfer" — the moment the flag-draped casket is removed from the aircraft and placed into an awaiting hearse. Journalist Chris Jones accompanied one fallen soldier on his journey home from Iraq. He wrote about the experience in a piece entitled, "The Things that Carried Him" for the May issue of Esquire. If you are involved in the transfer of bodies and remains of military personnel, or if you are a family member who's been through this process, tell us your story.