An December, 2012 arrival ceremony
A Department of Defense unit has been staging ‘arrival ceremonies’ for the remains of missing servicemen and women for years with planes that can’t fly.
The ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii featured remains that were already at the base, and used a non-working C-17 cargo plane that was towed into position, according to NBC News.
The public ceremonies are usually held about four times a year.
The Pentagon now says the ceremonies will be re-branded as ‘honors ceremonies’ – symbolic honors for bodies previously recovered. Click here to read the full statement.
The ceremonies have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
The ceremonies also have been known, at least among some of the military and civilian staff here, as The Big Lie.
Photos behind the scenes show that the flag-draped boxes had not just arrived on military planes, but ended their day where they begin it: at the same lab where the human remains have been waiting for analysis.
The Pentagon insisted that the flag-draped cases do contain human remains recently recovered, just not ones that arrived that day. It said its staff “treat the remains with the utmost of care, attention, integrity, and above all, honor.”
The Pentagon statement did not explain why the rituals were called “arrival ceremonies” if no one was arriving, or why the public had been told that remains removed that morning from the lab were about to go to the lab to “begin the identification process.”