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Posted 11/6/2015 Printable Fact Sheet

The primary mission of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations is to fulfill the nation's sacred commitment of ensuring dignity, honor and respect to the fallen and care, service and support to their families. A solemn dignified transfer of remains is conducted upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del., from the aircraft to a transfer vehicle to honor those who have given their lives in the service of our country. The vehicle then moves the fallen to the Port Mortuary.

The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the fallen member's respective service. A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member's service presides over each dignified transfer.

The sequence of the dignified transfer starts with the fallen being returned to Dover by the most expedient means possible, which may mean a direct flight from theater, or a flight to Ramstein Air Base, and then to Dover. It is the Department of Defense's policy, and AFMAO's mission, to return America's fallen to their loved ones as quickly as possible. Once the aircraft lands at Dover, service-specific carry teams remove the transfer cases individually from the aircraft and move them to a waiting mortuary transport vehicle.

In March 2009, the Secretary of Defense announced a change in policy that, upon consent of the family of the deceased, allowed media access to cover dignified transfers. The only dignified transfers that will be open to media coverage, with family approval, are those personnel who die in the line of duty supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel.

Contact Information:

Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations (AFMAO)
The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs
116 Purple Heart Drive
Dover AFB, DE 19902
COM: 302-677-2275
DSN: 445-2275

(Current as of March 2013)

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