WASHINGTON – Only families will be there as the bodies of 30 U.S. troops killed Saturday when their helicopter was shot down are returned from Aghanistan. Members of the media will be barred from honor guard ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base, Del., the Pentagon said Monday.
The transfer of remains was expected to occur Tuesday, the Pentagon said.
Thirty U.S. servicemembers, including Navy, Air Force and Army troops, were killed when their Chinook helicopter was brought down by insurgents using what’s believed to be a rocket-propelled grenade. Several Afghan troops were killed as well. The condition of the bodies prevents positive separate identification, a Pentagon spokeswoman said, and DOD rules require family permission to view the transfer of remains.
“Because the remains are unidentified at this point, next-of-kin are not in a position to grant approval for the media access to the dignified transfer,” DOD spokeswoman Capt. Jane Campbell wrote in a press release. “Therefore, in accordance with DoD policy, no media coverage of the arrival and dignified transfer is permitted. Families will however, be given the opportunity to be present for the arrival.”
A blanket ban on media coverage of honor guard ceremonies marking the return of servicemember remains was lifted by President Barack Obama in 2009. The ceremonies had previously been off-limits regardless of the wishes of families. Some critics of the ban, instituted in 1991, said it was designed to divert attention from the grim costs of war.