News>President, senior leaders pay tribute to fallen
Col. Mark Camerer, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, salutes President Barack Obama as he steps off Marine One at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 9, 2011. Obama came to Dover to pay respect to 30 fallen U.S. servicemembers, seven Afghan soldiers and a civilian interpreter at a dignified transfer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)
President Barack Obama is escorted by Col. Mark Camerer, 436th Airlift Wing commander at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 9, 2011. The president came to Dover to pay respect to 30 fallen U.S. servicemembers, seven Afghan soldiers and a civilian interpreter at a dignified transfer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)
by Christin Michaud
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs
8/10/2011 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and other senior leaders paid tribute to 30 fallen heroes here during a dignified transfer Aug. 9.
The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen were killed in action Saturday when the Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter went down in Afghanistan Aug. 6.
Aboard the helicopter were 30 U.S. military members, seven Afghan soldiers and one civilian interpreter.
Their remains arrived at Dover on two C-17 Globemaster IIIs for a dignified transfer and transport to the port mortuary, the largest mortuary in the DOD and the only one located in the continental United States.
Once at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, they will be identified and prepared for return to their families and travel to their final resting place.
Due to the catastrophic nature of the crash, the remains of the fallen service members were returned in "unidentified" status, until they could be positively identified by the Armed Forces Medical Examiners.
"We are using the full complement of identification technology, to include dental, fingerprinting, radiology and DNA," said Paul Stone, spokesperson for AFMES.
Following the autopsies, the fallen will be prepared for final disposition with the dignity, honor and respect given to all fallen heroes.
"Even as our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these American heroes, our team stands vigilant and prepared to answer our Nation's call during tragedies such as this," said Randy Keel, Port Mortuary director. "Every loss is so very tragic, and our group of quiet professionals will continue to press forward caring for our fallen for their return home knowing that no matter what task each person is performing, their commitment and attention to detail has a direct impact for those who are grieving."