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Maricopa High School AFJROTC Attends Luke Air Force Base Airshow 2016

 

Article submitted by:  Cadets Lyly Varela, Maria Garcia and Lt. Colonel Allen Kirksey

(Maricopa) On Saturday April 2, 53 Maricopa High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program cadets had the chance to attend Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona for its 2016 airshow.  While on the trip we had the honor of interviewing the C-17 Loadmaster Technical Sergeant Benson and as he described his job duties.  In the process of putting this article together, our AFJROTC Instructors direct us to do our research after the air show and we found the following: 

  • Extensive coordination goes into planning any Air Force flight, especially when transporting both people and supplies.
  • Loadmasters are responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers, and custom load aircraft before any flight.  From calculating proper weight distribution to providing for passenger comfort throughout the flight, these specialists ensure everything and everyone is safe and secure on flights all over the world.

 

During our interview with Sergeant Benson, we asked, “what was the best and worst part of the job?”  He looked at both of us and said simply, “the most honorable mission I fly was the Dignified Transfer mission.”  The name of the process of getting the caskets from the battlefield to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware peacefully is called dignified transfer.  When handling the caskets they do everything they can to make sure they get the utmost respect. They put all caskets in the very front of the plane to the left with the U.S flag draped over each of them.  The most difficult part of this mission is trying to keep his composure while waiting for the cargo door to fully open and watch the funeral hearse and families of the fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines come into the aircraft (while some families break down emotionally) at the sight of their loved one’s transfer case draped with the U.S. flag.

Our research also indicated a dignified transfer is the process by which, upon the return from the theater of operations to the United States, the remains of fallen military members are transferred from the aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to the port mortuary. The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the fallen member's respective branch of service. A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member's service presides over each dignified transfer. 

“This experience for all of our cadets and will last a lifetime.  I am very thankful for the Maricopa Union High School District, our Principal, Ms. Renita Meyers, Ms. Michelle Shaffer, Career, Technical Education Director, Lt. Col Kirksey, our new Senior Aerospace Science Instructor and Master Sergeant Dishon Gregory, our Assistant Science Instructor for giving 53 Maricopa High School AFJROTC cadets such a great experience.  It was an awesome day.”

 

Source:  http://www.talkingproud.us/Military/DignifiedTransfer/DignifiedTransfer/MortuaryAffairs.html

 

"A dignified transfer is the process by which, upon the return from the theater of operations to the United States, the remains of Fallen military members are transferred from the aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to the port mortuary. The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the Fallen member's respective service. A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the Fallen member's service presides over each dignified transfer. 


"The sequence of the dignified transfer starts with the Fallen being returned to Dover by the most expedient means possible, which may mean a direct flight from theater, or a flight to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and then to Dover. It is the Department of Defense's policy, and AFMAO's mission, to return America's Fallen to their loved ones as quickly as possible. Once the aircraft lands at Dover, service-specific carry teams remove the transfer cases individually from the aircraft and move them to a waiting mortuary transport vehicle. Once all of the transfer cases have been taken to the transport vehicles, they are then taken to the port mortuary." 

The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs is a 70,000 square foot facility. It is a joint military facility, with people from all services working there, often from the Reserves and Guard. It’s mission is this: 

“It is the center's mission and privilege to fulfill the nation's sacred commitment of ensuring dignity, honor, and respect to the Fallen and care, service, and support to their families.” 

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