The Pentagon allowed the news media to cover the arrival of a soldier's remains to Dover Air Force Base on Sunday for the first time in 18 years. The arrival of killed service members has been shielded from the media since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, but the Obama administration turned back the restriction, which now allows for media coverage — but only with the family's permission.
The event, which the military calls dignified transport, involves moving a transfer case containing the remains from the arriving cargo plane to a military mortuary van. "There's nobody there, but it kind of has to be perfect," says one soldier who is part of a Dover dignified transport team. "You don't want to mess up."
"We march up in a formation — the seven of us — two columns of three and one behind, calling the cadence — left, right, left, right," another soldier says. "There's no music ... even the commands we call out — they're not loud."
"It hits home — this is a service member who has made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. You're there to make sure he gets to where he needs to go safely."