Northwest: We Complied With All Regulations

Ah, so now it begins to take on a real shape, eh? Where I previously wondered aloud how a woman could be so right in some details and be decried as wrong on so many others, now the truth is out: she wasn’t wrong:

Army probes report of mishandled casket || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Northwest Airlines, on which the casket was flown, said in a statement tonight that a military escort stood at attention as three airline agents transferred the casket from the aircraft to an empty cart, then closed the privacy curtains. Northwest said it complied with all military and airline procedures.?All Northwest employees have the deepest respect for the sacrifices that members of the Armed Service have made, and work diligently to see that they and their families are shown the respect, care and compassion they so richly deserve,? the statement read.

Oh! That explains it.

By the way, don’t miss the original essay. It doesn’t read like the writing of a lunatic.

The questions I asked before become slightly modified since yesterday. Now that Northwest declares their actions within military procedures, the question is: did those procedures change to accomodate this war? The closest I came to answering that was a military code of “Salutes, Honors and Visits of Courtesy,” (PDF) from 2004, declassified. In it, the guide stipulates this much:

a. Active duty soldiers and Medal of Honor recipients will receive at least a 9?member team for the conduct of Military Funeral Honors. The team will consist of an officer in charge or NCO in charge, bugler, a 6?soldier casket bearer and/or firing party (dual function), and a chaplain (if requested by family).

This document does not specifically state how the “firing party” is to arrive at the funeral, of course, but with the body seems like a sensible choice. Meanwhile, I may be mangling the interpretation of Joe Spector’s words, but NW seems to be suggesting that there was perhaps more than one. Note in the originally quoted text, Joe ~ paraphrasing NW’s statement ~ only says “a military escort.” Again I wonder what constitutes a military escort these days or ever. Certainly, they cannot mean to suggest that this woman and three of her company managed to miss a second, third, or. . . ninth soldier in the procession?

Whilst awaiting our table at Carrabbas this evening (you should go. It’s good food.), my wife asked a good question, too, which is how do other bodies of non-military dead get transported? If a man dies in California and gets buried in New York, how does the body get transported?

Well, the answer doesn’t necessarily make the picture any clearer, but apparently moving dead bodies on commercial passenger planes is acceptible and presumably common. However, the confusion is in the details:

Northwest Airlines Cargo Tariff Rules for International FreightAirlines Cargo Tariff Rules for International Freight, Section 77 (B) HUMAN REMAINS:

Uncremated human remains will be carried in passenger or cargo aircraft of Carrier provided that advance arrangements have been made. However, cremated human remains will be transported without advance arrangements on both passenger and cargo aircraft. Uncremated human remains will be accepted for carriage only when they are secured in the casket to prevent shifting, are placed in hermetically sealed caskets enclosed in outside cases or in hermetically sealed metal cases, are accompanied by a certificate of death, and all laws, ordinances or other governmental rules or regulations governing the transportation of human remains have been complied with.

So, human remains are OK on passenger flights, but certainly not exposed caskets draped in flags. By the way, I couldn’t seem to find a copyright date on this document, but it’s directly off Northwest’s own website and there weren’t any other similar documents I could find on their website.

The bottom line here is that we need to get someone to give the public a straight answer as to what happened and what is acceptable. There might be nothing here at all, but officials from the Armed Services and the RIA playing cover-up are not doing a thing to improve the situation.
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By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.