CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Air Force Press Briefing
Aired March 25, 2003 - 15:31 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But in the meantime, I want to go to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. There's a briefing underway right now. This is the base where killed in action almost always come, arrive back in the United States first.
COL. SCOTT WUESTHOLF, WING COMMANDER: ... is just to really kind of lay out what happens here at Dover Air Force Base. What we do with the mortuary and how we fit into the equation. I can tell you that we have the Department of Defense's only continental United States mortuary, the only mortuary within the contiguous United States.
What happened this morning is the fact that we received the first remains out of -- the first fatalities out of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At approximately 5:45 this morning, a KC-10 tanker flown by the Air Mobility Command landed here at Dover Air Force Base. It taxied on to the parking spot, and the wing chaplain and myself were out there standing at attention.
The plane pulled up, it stopped. It shut down its engines. We put a small contingent of personnel on board. I say small contingent. We basically had another colonel, Colonel Chuck Smiley (ph), my services squadron commander, the mortuary director go on board and brief the crew as to what would happen, along with the head of our honor guard.
Once they were ready, once we checked that the transfer cases were covered with the flags in a proper method, we opened the cargo door and we proceeded to download the transfer cases on our -- the loader, the high lift that we have. Before that loading, the wing chaplain and I that had been standing out there to meet and greet the airplane went on board and we said a prayer for the fallen -- our fallen comrades and their families.
At that point, the chaplain and I went down and joined a small honor cordon at the base of the aircraft, the base of the loader, and we took the two flag-draped transfer cases off of the loader and proceeded to take them to the mortuary.
Our goal here is to process the remains, to identify the remains, and to prepare them for the expeditious shipment to their loved ones. We view our role here as one; it's a very short stop, a quick stop in the journey home. We don't want to slow down the process, but it's a process that we take very, very seriously.
It's a zero defect process. And our goal is to get the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters home to their loved ones, where they can be accorded the proper honors at that point in time. At this point, I think we'd like to...
BLITZER: That's it. That's the briefing they're giving now at Dover Air Force Base. That's where the U.S. military has the mortuary, the initial stop for those killed in action. Then they'll be transferred, the remains will be transferred to their loved ones, where they'll be buried.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com