News>Dignified transfer OIC honored to serve fallen
Capt. Bernard Harper salutes a fallen service member’s transfer case at a dignified transfer July 10, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Harper’s duties as the officer in charge of dignified transfers include briefing service carry teams, coordinating with different base agencies and calling commands during the dignified transfer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Adrian Rowan)
Capt. Bernard Harper observes the AFMAO carry team during practice July 24, 2012. Harper is responsible for coordinating dignified transfers of fallen service members at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Caitlin Jones)
by Staff Sgt. Caitlin Jones
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Public Affairs
9/1/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- At his home base of Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Capt. Bernard Harper is the chief of the Military Personnel Section. His job there varies greatly from the range of duties he oversees as the officer in charge of dignified transfers here with Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.
"The jobs are like night and day," said Harper. "The MPS is more of administrative work. And then coming over here to AFMAO, you're dealing with other services, families, liaisons and things like that. You get to see a lot more working here than anywhere else."
In addition to coordinating each dignified transfer, Harper is also in charge of training the AFMAO carry team.
"They have to be sharp, professional and ready to go at anytime," said Harper.
The captain is one of many service members who deploy to AFMAO throughout the year. Even though his deployment is to a stateside location, he still experiences several of the same stressors as an overseas tour.
"Being here as a deployer is not easy because the hours are kind of weird," said Harper. "A dignified transfer can happen anytime, 24/7, on holidays on weekends. So we have to be ready at any moment's notice to provide that dignity, honor and respect for our fallen."
Even with long hours, being away from home station and having a unique set of duties, Harper says his deployment to the mortuary is one of the most fulfilling of his career.
"I really enjoy my job," he said. "It's really an honor and a pleasure to be here. This is unlike any other place in the Air Force. There's not too many people in the Air Force that get the great opportunity to serve here."
9/4/2012 1:51:06 AM ET Hats off to the folks that perform or have performed this difficult mission. The toughest days no matter what the role is. Embrace the mission and serve the fallen with pride Great article