“Flag-Embossed Containers”

Apparently it isn’t flag draped coffins anymore (during commercial transit at least) FromStars and Stripes

ARLINGTON, Va. — Fallen servicemembers and Defense Department civilians are now being transported home in flag-embossed containers after two instances in which the remains were not handled correctly on commercial aircraft, according to the head of Army mortuary affairs.

Col. Pat Gawkins, director of the Army Casualty and Mortuary Operations Center, said the change is meant to ensure that the remains are treated with “care and concern.”

“We don’t want them coming off mixed with luggage and handled in an improper way because someone on the ground didn’t realize what’s going on,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

In most cases military officials use commercial aircraft to transport remains from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to their final resting place.”


Gawkins did not provide details of the two instances when caskets were handled incorrectly on commercial aircraft.

The “honor cover” features a graphic of an American flag and the Defense Department seal on both ends of the container in which caskets are transported, said Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Defense Department spokesman.

The Defense Department is not releasing pictures of the honor covers because a permanent design has not yet been decided upon, Upton said.

And probably never will be.

Also in the article is this change in policy…

…the Army is now requiring an investigation into the deaths of all soldiers killed by hostile action, Gawkins said.

“What prompted it was our experience over a number of these cases where we thought we knew the circumstances and then it came to light later that the investigation showed it wasn’t what it seemed to be,” he said.


5 thoughts on ““Flag-Embossed Containers”

  1. I went back and read the linked article and am a little confused on a few things.
    First, that the army is “now requiring an investigation into the deaths of all soldiers killed by hostile action…” Does this mean from now forward or going back to the start of the war? I’m also a little confused in that the reason for many of the “showed it wasn’t what it seemed to be” were cases where the army misled, obscurred, etc. events to benefit itself.
    But I’m really confused by the new casket design. The article gives no details to hint at the problem. Its not unusual to send bodies via cargo (unsettling to first class if they were to think about it? but not at all unusual). Even 20 years ago, when things were a little slower and gentler in the airlines, cargo handlers were (and are) under tremendous pressure to move cargo as fast as possible; each minute the plane is on the ground is money; they are throwing cargo as fast as they can – the further it is thrown the faster they are; they can’t slow down for “fragile”; if the walls of the luggage is crushed in – it is supposed to absorb shock to protect the contents and the airline isn’t responsible for “normal wear and tear”
    So do they think the luggage handlers are going to slow down for a fancy paint job – knowing that if they slow down they loose their job?

  2. I think in terms of investigations of deaths they mean from now forward.
    As for the coffins they certainly are not saying but there must have been a real FUBAR in at least 2 cases. I’m assuming they were either lost or treated as baggage or perhaps both

  3. I did see one of the military coffins unloaded on a recent flight. They treated it with great respect. Busy flight, busy airport, but my impression was that this is normal.
    Yes, it must have been a big FUBAR, but one has to doubt that a FUBAR on that level would have been prevented by embossed covers.
    Does it seem to anyone else that it’s a tremendous amount of investigation that will be needed, even if they’re only going to investigate future deaths? I guess that’s one way to keep the investigators busy so they don’t have time to check out what Halliburton is doing…

  4. I see nothing in the Stars & Stripes article that mentions flag-draped coffins. Have all the dead been coming back in flag-draped coffins? Will “honor covers” replace the flags or merely be added to coffins that would otherwise be bare?
    Your post assumes there will be no more flags with the dead. After reading the original article, I can’t say that’s right OR wrong. I think you created in your mind an image of the flags being replaced with stickers and assume that’s the case. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But please try to be more factual in the future.

  5. Sorry. Refer back to the picture of the coffins that the Bush administration so strongly opposed printing. Room full of rectangular boxes, a flag over each one.

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