Mortuary community remembers Buddy Horton

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Katie Maricle
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

 Friends and colleagues are remembering the life and legacy of Murray E. Horton Jr., known as “Buddy” throughout his decades of service in the mortuary affairs field. Horton, the former director of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Operating Location-Europe, passed away last month at the age of 76.

Horton was the subject matter expert for the movement of remains at Ramstein Air Base, Germany when the 786th Force Support Squadron began processing remains to assist AFMAO in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as a mortuary affairs specialist for nearly four decades before retiring in Germany with his wife, Martha.

“He became accustomed to his Blackberry ringing in the middle of the night,” said Senior Master Sgt. Shonta Simes, AFMAO operations support superintendent. “He knew those phone calls would bring our fallen heroes that much closer to home and sacrificing a few hours of sleep was worth it.”

Trevor Dean, Department of Defense program analyst for casualty, mortuary affairs and military funeral honors, knew Horton since they first began working together in 1997.

“I can’t think of anyone with more experience in mortuary affairs in the Europe and Africa theaters than Buddy Horton,” said Dean. “The Air Force, the DoD, and most importantly, the thousands of families affected, were lucky to have him coordinating mortuary services for 38 years in the region.”

Horton was not only responsible for coordinating the processing of remains during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, but also past conflicts in the European and African theaters.

“Mr. Horton’s longstanding, unwavering support of our fallen and their families will not be forgotten,” said Col. Chip Hollinger, AFMAO commander. “His impact across the mortuary affairs enterprise was critical to accomplishing our sacred mission.”

Horton is survived by his wife, Martha, his family and friends, and his colleagues who served with him over his many years of service.