No Marine Left Behind: Mortuary Affairs Specialists Bring Angels Home
(April 26, 2010)
|CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan (MCN - 4/22/2010) — Service members who make the
ultimate sacrifice while serving in a combat zone are known as Angels. Those
troops who lose their lives on the battlefield are brought home so they may
be honored and laid to rest.
It is the job of the Marines with the Personnel Retrieval and Processing
Detachment, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) to take care of the Angels
and return them to their families.
"Our primary job is to recover the remains of fallen troops, bring them
back, inventory their gear and send them home," said Cpl. Matthew A. Sarkis,
mortuary affairs specialist with PRP, 1st MLG (FWD).
|CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan-Cpl. Matthew A. Sarkis,
mortuary affairs specialist with the Personnel Retrieval and
Processing detachment, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), 26,
from Crofton, Md., prepares a national flag to be placed on top
of an Angel's transfer case, April 19.
There are a few different ways they can retrieve the Angels, explained
Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Barnett, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of
the Mortuary Affairs Collection Point Bastion, PRP, 1st MLG (FWD). They can
receive the Angels from the medical facility or from the unit directly via
air or ground transport. The unit can also request PRP come to the incident
site in order to conduct the recovery of Angels.
Mortuary affairs specialists are proud to be able to uphold adage "No Marine
Service members who make the ultimate sacrifice while serving in a combat zone are known as 'Fallen Angels.' Marines with the Personnel Retrieval and Processing detachment, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), process the remains of the Angels and inventory their personal effects before sending them on their journey home.
"This is probably one of the most honorable missions a Marine can have in
the Marine Corps," said Chief Warrant Officer Kim T. Adamson, officer in
charge of the MACP Bastion and Dwyer, PRP, 1st MLG (FWD).
Even though it's difficult to see one of their own make the ultimate
sacrifice, for Sarkis, 26, from Crofton, Md., it's an honor to be able to
send the Angels back home with honor and dignity, while bringing closure to
"I always thought that if it was my child over here that had died, I would
want somebody like me to take care of him and send him home to me," said
Adamson, 56, from Salt Lake City. "That's how much of a connection I have
with this job."
The process in which an Angel is taken from a forward operating base to the
aircraft flown back to the United States is called a dignified transfer,
explained Barnett, 36, from Frederick, Md. As a show of respect to the
Angel, service members arrive at the flight line and form up on each side of
the ramp leading to the aircraft. Prior to loading the Angel on the plane,
the Chaplain gives a final prayer to the Angel.
"From there, we would carry the transfer case from our vehicle to the plane,
this is known as the rendering of honor," said Barnett. As the Angel is
carried to the aircraft, Marines pay their final respects by saluting the
transfer case as the Angel passes by, he added.+
"It's difficult to see the remains of the people in the same uniform as us,
who believe in the same thing we believe," said Adamson. "You have to detach
yourself from the emotional part of doing the job or you'll never get
Embodying the phrase "Once a Marine, always a Marine," the Fallen Angels
have served honorably, for which their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
These mortuary affairs specialists are proud and honored to be able to bring
their fallen brothers and sisters home to their final resting place.
Article and photos by USMC LCpl. Khoa Pelczar
1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD)
Marine Corps News
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