Bodies in the Baggage


ne of the recent items posted on the Huffington Post is a piece about a San Diego area Marine who was killed in Iraq and transported home in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner. This certainly seems to be a shabby way to treat a fallen soldier, but….

Here’s what AIR MOBILITY COMMAND, AMC INSTRUCTION 24-101, VOLUME 11 1 APRIL 2005, has to say about the transportation of deceased personnel.

30. Remains of Deceased Personnel:

30.1. General. Transportation of deceased military personnel and other authorized remains by AMC is authorized between overseas and CONUS IAW AFI 34-501, Mortuary Affairs Program. Whenever possible, restrict movement of remains to cargo/dual configured airlift missions. Baggage compartment space on passenger type aircraft may be used when satisfactory service cannot be accomplished on cargo missions. (Emphasis added)

30.2. Handling:

30.2.1. Ensure on/offloading is accomplished discreetly and non-concurrently with passenger/patient on/offloading.

30.2.2. Shipments will move on a separate manifest, using the manifest as a hand-to-hand receipt.

30.2.3. Transfer cases containing remains will be stowed on the aircraft/pallet in a level position. The feet will never be higher than the head while in the stowed position. The head will always be stowed toward the nose of the aircraft. This procedure assures aircraft acceleration forces are borne by the feet, thereby avoiding damage to the head. When loaded, transfer cases should be loaded in the forward most available cargo position in the event jettisoning is necessary.

NOTE: On widebody aircraft (ie, C-5, C-17) transfer cases can be moved from one side to the other in the event jettisoning is required. Therefore, transfer cases may be loaded towards the rear of the aircraft if required.

30.2.4. No other cargo will be loaded on top of transfer case containing human remains. However, if more than one transfer case containing remains is shipped or stored, stacking is permitted, but should be avoided if at all possible. The maximum number of human remains transfer cases that safely may be transported on a single 463L pallet is 12. Place cases in three rows, each row stacked to a maximum of four.

30.2.5. When remains are received at an AMC terminal they will be stored in a secure area and separate from other cargo. If remains are not embalmed, refrigerated storage is required. If refrigeration is not available, contact mortuary affairs.       

30.2.6. Move remains on a space-required basis, using MILSTAMP documentation procedures.

EXCEPTION: Remains of retired personnel will move on a space available basis from overseas locations.

30.2.7. The shipping activity should provide the origin APOE with the following information as applicable, as far in advance as possible: Military personnel: name, grade, and SSN. Civilian employees: name, grade, SSN, and employment data. Contract engineering and technical services (CETS) personnel: name, and employment data. Dependents of military personnel and civilian employees: name of decedent; name, grade, SSN, and organization (or employment data) of the sponsor. Other United States citizens: name of decedent, name and address of sponsoring individual, agency or firm.

30.2.8. The shipper marks the case with name and address of receiving funeral director.

30.2.9. The shipper ensures a DD Form 2064, Certificate of Death (Overseas), preferably in English, is affixed to the transfer case of deceased personnel. If the certificate is not in English, the shipper provides a statement in English, stating the cause of death.

30.2.10. See AMCI 24-101, Volume 9, Section E, for additional guidance.

This appears to be another one of those clues that the military doesn’t have enough equipment to accomplish their mission.


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