View Full Version : How soon do they come home after a soldier has died?

04-03-2009, 07:54 PM
It is a matter of days, a week? I have a soldier in my book that is going to die, but not sure how long it takes for them to come home (for burial). Thanks!

04-03-2009, 08:06 PM
Crucial pieces of info are missing in this question.

Most important, what time period/war/battle are you talking about?

04-03-2009, 08:19 PM
He is a soldier in Iraq.

04-03-2009, 08:22 PM
Some of that is going to depend on how they died. Is there an investigation connected to it, for example. Are there concerns about accurate body identification? Is there a political aspect?

A long way to go to say, depending on your story, you've got some flexibility on this.

04-03-2009, 08:26 PM
He has a wife at home. Its a drama story. She receives the news that he's died. But not sure when they come home.

04-03-2009, 08:55 PM
What does having a wife and drama--which is inferred; I don't see many comedic stories about soldiers--have to do with his mortal wound(s), body ID and whether or not it was a suspect death?

You need these specifics in order to get the answer you require.

04-03-2009, 08:58 PM
Not a suspect death. Just a soldier dying over in the war in Iraq. Its not a comedy story, its a drama.

04-03-2009, 09:05 PM
I have a brother-in-law in Iraq right now. I just sent an email to his wife to ask if she knows or can find out for you. I'll let you know when I hear back from her.

04-03-2009, 09:06 PM

04-03-2009, 09:21 PM
I have a brother-in-law in Iraq right now. I just sent an email to his wife to ask if she knows or can find out for you. I'll let you know when I hear back from her.

Um. Did you really just email the wife of a soldier to ask her what would happen if her husband, who is at war, died?

04-03-2009, 09:24 PM
Yep. I sure did. She expects things like that from me. She'll answer when she gets online.

04-03-2009, 11:36 PM
It depends on a lot of things...the availability of appropriate military transportation being among them.

The bodies are first flown to Ramstein AB, Germany, and from there they are returned to the military mortuary at Dover AFB, DE. The process would usually take place within a few days, but that is not guaranteed.

A young soldier from this area was killed last winter and I seem to recall it was about 10 days from the family being informed until the funeral took place.

BTW...if you have the opportunity to see the HBO movie Taking Chance, you will see the detailed steps of processing combat casualties.

04-04-2009, 01:21 AM
I got your answer. It can take up to two weeks to get the body back for burial. My brother-in-law said that the military requires an autopsy even if the death is not suspect. It's procedure for those killed in a combat zone.

Tsu Dho Nimh
04-04-2009, 05:46 AM
Let's ask another question: What timeline does your PLOT need?

Given that, we can some up with a plausible scenario.

Elaine Margarett
04-04-2009, 04:50 PM
I was a military photographer for the Joint Personal Effects Depot. *Typically* it takes three to five days for a body to arrive at Dover. There is an autopsy; the body is photograhed, and prepared to then be sent to the family's funeral home. The timeline between then and the funeral would depend on the family's needs and schedule. If the burial will take place at Arlington Nat. Cemetary that generall will add a week or more to the timeframe

"Taking Chance" was an accurate accounting of the process of returning a body home. It was espeically poignant when at the end they showed the photographs of the *real* Chance. I can't tell you how many similar photos I've seem. I wonder if I was the one to photograph his PE. Unfortunately, over time they all run together. I could contact one of my friends still at the depot and have them look up the database to see what photographer shot his stuff...but I think at this point, I'd just as soon not know.

All those lives... what a shame...


I forgot to add that one of the factors in the time it takes to process a body is how many arrive at the same time. If there are heavy casualties it can created a backlog of sorts. That could add a week or more to the proccess.