The Fallen

By Eliza

Aug 9, 2011 6:31pm

President Obama arrived at Dover Air Force Base at 12:35 pm today, where he was greeted by Col. Mark Camerer, the 436th Airlift Wing Commander. The president motorcaded to the two C-17s containing the remains of the fallen servicemen. The remains had been flown from Afghanistan to Ramstein Germany and then to Dover. One C-17 contained 20 flag-covered cases, the other had 18. They are “cases,” not caskets, because they are not a final resting place. Thirty cases were covered by American flags, eight by Afghan flags. The flags represent the nationality of lives lost, but the cases don't represent the actual remains.  A public affairs officer at Dover said that due to the catastrophic nature of the crash, the remains of the fallen are as yet “unidentified.” “The crash they were in was so horrific and the state of remains such that there was no easy way to see this was this person or this was that person,” the public affairs officer said. The president then went to a building on base where approximately 250 family members and fellow servicemen and women of the fallen had gathered. He spent approximately 70 minutes meeting informally with family members, offering his condolences for their loss and his deep gratitude for their sacrifice and service. The president then motorcaded to the hangar and stood along a red carpet during transfer ceremony, along with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and other military leaders. “It was very sober, somber, serious atmosphere,” a White House official with the president said. “Very dignified. An amazing display of the honor of the sacrifice.” In July, the president talked to CBS 3 in Philadelphia about Dover.  “Having gone to Dover, seen the ceremony, I cannot emphasize enough the care, the reverence, the thoughtfulness that officials at Dover show to the families of the fallen and to the fallen themselves,” the president said. “And when we think about the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making, it’s overwhelming.  And when we think about the ultimate sacrifice that’s made, knowing that we have a team at Dover that is doing everything they can not only to comfort, but also to honor that sacrifice, is extraordinarily important. And so we’re blessed for the great work that the people of Dover do, and I think all of Americans owe them a great deal of gratitude.” -Mary Bruce and Jake Tapper

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