Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shoddy Reporting on Fallen Soldiers

There's been gnashing of teeth around the internet over this story, of which I was skeptical from the moment I read it:
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.
I took a moment to look into the issue and came up with this post from The Mudville Gazette. It is too long to quote effectively here, but I recommend reading it with two considerations:
  • The first quoted article is a detailed description of how a fallen soldier is returned home.
  • The second provides little more content than editorial outrage over the designation of coffins as "freight" (as contrasted with seated passengers?).
In the end, this non-story gave Senator Barbara Boxer a chance to pander and reminded us that if it seems like reporters has left out 99% of the context, they probably have.

Update, Dec. 16th: A veteran escort officer weighs in:
To the 10News team I would repeat the cave mans response as his companion orders his duck lunch in a TV commercial – “Next time do a little research.”
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Ryan said...

Although I agree that having a military escort and color guard for every fallen soldier on his/her return home is nearly impossible, the "Well, that's just how it's done, so deal with it" argument is not solving the problem. We should be looking for a more respectful way to transport their remains instead of just dealing with the current system.

Nick said...

The post I've linked to explains that there are ceremonies at Dover and there is a military escort accompanying the coffin. I also believe additional services are available for funerals if they are wanted.

I think this particular dispute is a huge overreaction because there is no end to the demand for "more respect" - regardless of the constraints of law, logistics, and cost.