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View Full Version : GI is Killed--Needs Help on Awards, Procedures, and Funeral



GordonK
08-24-2009, 02:47 AM
Sighs. I really hate having to write about things I don't have much knowledge about and research is never enough. Anyway, Green Beret Corporal John Dole is a Brooklyn, NY, native. He dies in a heroic act (based on Jason Dunham) while fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. Precisely, John Dole is killed by a grenade blast while he covers the grenade with his body in an attempt to save his comrades.

QUESTIONS:
I've written that he's killed instantly (but I can change that.) Will his body be flown to some US bases in Germany first or to the US directly? Since he's already dead, I don't think he'll be flown to Landstuhl. Am I right?

I expect him to be awarded Bronze Star with valor. When will this be awarded, before the funeral or some time later? Can I expect no Silver Star? I want the grandfather (WWII vet) to whine about it. As a result the MC will have a dialogue with Dole's commander during the funeral. Either case Corporal Dole will be awarded Medal of Honor posthumously 2 years later.

Is it reasonable to assume no viewing because his face/body would have been badly damaged? I actually would like to have the viewing, because the family is adorning something the MC had given to John Dole a long time ago.

The grandfather wants John Dole to be interred at a local cemetery instead of Arlington, because his father and two uncles--all died during active duties-- are there. I expect the DOD will dispatch appropriate personnel there and some officers of his branch will attend. Will his comrades be arranged to attend or will they remain in Afghanistan for their duties? Will these military personnel ride on civilian vehicles (funeral home->church->cemetery) or will they send in military vehicles from nearby army bases?

During funeral, who will present the flag to the next of kin, an assigned ceremony officer or the highest ranking officer at the scene?

I'm expecting NO Full-honors Funeral because he's not an officer. Am I right?

The church in his parish is a rather small one. Should I bother with some special arrangement to have the Funeral Mass moved to a bigger church? The reason is I expect this to be a high-profile funeral widely covered by media before and afterward. I'd expect many public figures showing up (for one reason or another.)

Thanks in advance.:)

Hettie
08-24-2009, 02:55 AM
There was a fantastic movie with Kevin Bacon in it that is a true story...

Taking Chance (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1019454/)

It has so much of this information in there. About escorting the bodies of our soldiers back home. AMAZING!

Bodies can be rebuilt-ish... if the face is not too damaged, it can be an open casket. But, the parents can go into the funeral home before hand and put items in.

Yes, they have people assigned to go, as they have people assigned to escort the body- at all times... They will transport wherever they need to. Google the flag part for the particular branch... marines, army, etc. Comrades still on active duty probably would not go unless they got special permission.


All the boys and girls have a right to have honors.

Small church would give public figures MORE press I would think!

Just a military brat giving you snippets from my memory... they may not be right. Branch- Marines.

GordonK
08-26-2009, 10:50 PM
Thank you, Hettie.

Yes, the movie is amazing and powerful. It's a movie worth watching even without doing research in mind. Thanks again.

Richard White
08-27-2009, 03:59 AM
OK, I'll take a shot at this but remember it's been 10 years since I left the service.

1) Most likely he'd be flown to Germany first before being flown into Dover. From there, they'd make arrangements with the family's choice of funeral director for delivery of the body.

2) Diving on a HG to protect his buddies? To be honest, I'd expect no less than a Silver Star. Depending on the write up, it could get get upgraded or downgraded, (but a downgrade would surprise me). He could actually wind up with the Distinguished Service Cross or even a Medal of Honor (No such thing as a Congressional Medal of Honor).

3) Agreed, they could do some reconstructive surgery to have an open casket, but I'm not sure if the military would pass the expense on to the family or not. (I don't have the AR on funerals any more).

4) Family always has the option of a local funeral. Transportation to the funeral home/cemetery is at the Army's expense.

5) Re: Flag presentation - normally it would be the OIC of the funeral detail. However, if there is a senior officer present, he might be able to work out something ahead of time. It would be unusual though.

6) Define full honors to you. I've been on funeral detail enough times to know we didn't change our technique whether we were burying a general or a private. If you're talking about a horse-drawn caisson, that depends on the unit responsible for the burial detail.

7) Outside of the officer who accompanied his body back from Afghanistan, the rest of his unit would not be there (unless they managed to swing leave . . . very doubtful). The nearest active duty Army unit would be responsible for funeral detail. If there is none available, then the nearest reserve/guard unit would provide the detail.

7a) The funeral detail would most likely ride from point A to B to C in either a large passenger van or a military bus. The rifle team will set up a discreet distance away and the bugler will set up even further away to not draw attention to himself when he plays taps. And let me tell you. Standing at Attention with an M-16 and listening to Taps, it gets a person and I never "knew" anyone we buried.

8) Arrangements will be made with a local funeral director for the burial. If they want a larger church/chapel, that will be handled.

Hope this helps.

Arkie
08-27-2009, 04:31 AM
I agree with Richard on most of his comments. I will say that a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save fellow soldiers is not going to get a Bronze Star. They hand out Bronze Stars like chewing gum. More than likely he will be awarded the Medal of Honor, Silver Star minimum.

And too, honor guards are not always going to have a bugler to play Taps. They often use a tape for that, particularly in rural areas. And like Richard indicated, there is nothing more emotional than Taps, whether at a funeral or at the end of the work day on a base. You have your work cut out as a writer to capture that. Recommend watching "From Here to Eternity," and pay attention to the scene where Taps is played after Maggio is killed.

GordonK
08-27-2009, 05:36 AM
Thank you Richard and Arkie. Extremely helpful. Clears my doubts. LOL@ chewing gum paradigm. I'll look into the series From Here to Eternity.

Silver Star to start with then. The ride from the church to the cemetery is at least 25 mins, so I think I'll ignore a horse-drawn caisson (or at least that scene.) I'll just skip from the church to the cemetery.

Yes, Taps playing always gets to me. Not sure if that's the melody or the association. But I bet nothing beats that feeling when you're listening to it while standing in a ceremony for someone you at least know. Now how am I going to describe that feeling is a question. *Scratches head*

Thanks again everyone.

Richard White
08-27-2009, 06:21 AM
You can always have one of the pov characters think "no matter how many times I hear that song, it's still haunting."

Or something like that.

GordonK
08-27-2009, 08:57 AM
You can always have one of the pov characters think "no matter how many times I hear that song, it's still haunting."

Or something like that.

Won't work for this story :rant: because the story is told in 3rd limited with only one POV, and this guy has only been to one funeral before (his mom's.)

But, I think he can see tears in the other soldiers, and even the VFWs attending. And as he sees, he feels the tunes get louder or deeper into his skin.

Vanatru
08-28-2009, 08:57 AM
Sighs. I really hate having to write about things I don't have much knowledge about and research is never enough. Anyway, Green Beret Corporal John Dole is a Brooklyn, NY, native. He dies in a heroic act (based on Jason Dunham) while fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. Precisely, John Dole is killed by a grenade blast while he covers the grenade with his body in an attempt to save his comrades.


Don't take this the wrong way......but in the business if you call him a Green Beret you'll stand out as noob/Hollywood writer. These days it's called SpecOps, or Special Forces. Yes, there are the GB's, but terms like Operator and SpecOps/SpecFor are common. Green Beanie and SnakeEater are old school.......real old school. You'd automatically be knocked down a step or two as a rube.



QUESTIONS:
I've written that he's killed instantly (but I can change that.) Will his body be flown to some US bases in Germany first or to the US directly? Since he's already dead, I don't think he'll be flown to Landstuhl. Am I right?

All outbound units from Iraq and the 'Stan go through Europe. Alive or dead. The airbase can vary for various reasons.



I expect him to be awarded Bronze Star with valor. When will this be awarded, before the funeral or some time later? Can I expect no Silver Star? I want the grandfather (WWII vet) to whine about it. As a result the MC will have a dialogue with Dole's commander during the funeral. Either case Corporal Dole will be awarded Medal of Honor posthumously 2 years later.

It depends upon the review committie as to what the soldier was attempting. Giving of one's life for the safety and defense of one's squaddies will be looked upon more favorably than just the giving of one's life. In other words, if your willing to die, it better be to save your battle buddies or some civies than just some damn dumb Hollywood bullshit heroics.

The exact honor awarded will depend on what his CO put her/him in for. Even if the parent unit doesn't put them in for shit, if the soldier was assigned temporary duty to another unit they can submit that soldier for a battle honor.





Is it reasonable to assume no viewing because his face/body would have been badly damaged? I actually would like to have the viewing, because the family is adorning something the MC had given to John Dole a long time ago.

Your the god of yourwork, you can write it however you want. I have yet to do an open casket funeral though.



The grandfather wants John Dole to be interred at a local cemetery instead of Arlington, because his father and two uncles--all died during active duties-- are there. I expect the DOD will dispatch appropriate personnel there and some officers of his branch will attend. Will his comrades be arranged to attend or will they remain in Afghanistan for their duties? Will these military personnel ride on civilian vehicles (funeral home->church->cemetery) or will they send in military vehicles from nearby army bases?

If her/his squaddies are downrange, they will stay there. They won't be pulled for a funeral stateside. A local military contingent may be requested and if available, will attend and conduct carrying of the casket, taps, salute, and presentation of the flag to next of kin. Outside of Hollywood, fighting goes and on and bodies downrange stay there to continue that, not going home for a picture perfect funeral. As a soldier you sign up to fight or die.....all else is secondary.




During funeral, who will present the flag to the next of kin, an assigned ceremony officer or the highest ranking officer at the scene?

I'm expecting NO Full-honors Funeral because he's not an officer. Am I right?

I've been on 6 funeral details and an officer has always been present to hand the flag off to the next of kin. Even if it's just a butter bar. From what I've experienced, the lower the rank of the soldier that's died, the lower the rank of the officer on hand to present the flag. You won't see a Colonel at privates funeral.....unless something is going on.




The church in his parish is a rather small one. Should I bother with some special arrangement to have the Funeral Mass moved to a bigger church? The reason is I expect this to be a high-profile funeral widely covered by media before and afterward. I'd expect many public figures showing up (for one reason or another.)

Thanks in advance.:)

That's up to the family. If they do it at a non-military cemetary it's all on them. The military has enough going on as is to take the time to micro-manage a local funeral. It's up to the family to make arrangements at a civie church/cemetary and conduct media arrangements and who will attend and what not.

As far as Taps go......it's haunting because you know it's only for a certain reason and that's the loss of a comrade, a fellow soldier. Of course, it has more impact if the soldier was someone you knew, but even for a stranger, it still makes you pause for thought.

GordonK
08-28-2009, 09:52 PM
Thank you Vanatru. Very informative.


Don't take this the wrong way......but in the business if you call him a Green Beret you'll stand out as noob/Hollywood writer. These days it's called SpecOps, or Special Forces. Yes, there are the GB's, but terms like Operator and SpecOps/SpecFor are common. Green Beanie and SnakeEater are old school.......real old school. You'd automatically be knocked down a step or two as a rube.

I did a search on my story. There is only one instance of mentioning Green Beret. It's in a dialogue: "I'm not training to be a Green Beret," says a civilian guy after jogging. His civilian friend stares at the soldier and says, "You're in the Special Forces?"

Does this sound okay?


Your the god of yourwork, you can write it however you want. I have yet to do an open casket funeral though.
I've decided closed-casket.



I've been on 6 funeral details and an officer has always been present to hand the flag off to the next of kin. Even if it's just a butter bar. From what I've experienced, the lower the rank of the soldier that's died, the lower the rank of the officer on hand to present the flag. You won't see a Colonel at privates funeral.....unless something is going on.
Well, my plan is to have Corporal Dole's Commander--a Colonel--to attend the funeral. I hope this sounds reasonable. Otherwise I may have to make the NYC Mayor to attend (for political agenda) and maybe therefore the DOD will see this as a PR opportunity. (Unlike PFC Phelp in the movie Taking Chance who is buried in a small town 5 hours from the nearest commercial airport, this happens in NYC and will be covered by the local news teams of all 3 national networks.)

Vanatru
09-02-2009, 05:34 AM
Thank you Vanatru. Very informative.



I did a search on my story. There is only one instance of mentioning Green Beret. It's in a dialogue: "I'm not training to be a Green Beret," says a civilian guy after jogging. His civilian friend stares at the soldier and says, "You're in the Special Forces?"

Does this sound okay?

Sorry for the delayed response. They only let me out once a week. :)

Sounds good.



I've decided closed-casket.

That's probably for the best. They might do an open casket at the funeral home, but at grave sight it's always closed.




Well, my plan is to have Corporal Dole's Commander--a Colonel--to attend the funeral. I hope this sounds reasonable. Otherwise I may have to make the NYC Mayor to attend (for political agenda) and maybe therefore the DOD will see this as a PR opportunity. (Unlike PFC Phelp in the movie Taking Chance who is buried in a small town 5 hours from the nearest commercial airport, this happens in NYC and will be covered by the local news teams of all 3 national networks.)

If you spin it the right way, then it would make sense to have the Col back stateside; but, otherwise he'd still be downrange with his unit. I was in and out of military hospitals for awhile and NEVER saw any officers from my unit....but that's because they were still overseas. Nothing personal on their part, just they had a job to do while I was goldbricking. :)

Is it important to have the soldier's colonel there? Is there some connection? If so, perhaps make that connection with an officer who's stateside and make it easier for them to attend. Or even have an officer who was with the soldiers unit, but was rotated back stateside for whatever reason prior to the soldiers death.

GordonK
09-02-2009, 06:46 AM
If you spin it the right way, then it would make sense to have the Col back stateside; but, otherwise he'd still be downrange with his unit. I was in and out of military hospitals for awhile and NEVER saw any officers from my unit....but that's because they were still overseas. Nothing personal on their part, just they had a job to do while I was goldbricking. :)

Is it important to have the soldier's colonel there? Is there some connection? If so, perhaps make that connection with an officer who's stateside and make it easier for them to attend. Or even have an officer who was with the soldiers unit, but was rotated back stateside for whatever reason prior to the soldiers death.

Thank you. Yeah, it can be tough only getting out once a week.

I think I can just make it any officer who can relate messages. I never knew the commanding officer of the 5th Special Forces Group would be leading the combat in the field. I always thought he would be working from his office at Fort Campbell.

Vanatru
09-03-2009, 08:04 AM
Thank you. Yeah, it can be tough only getting out once a week.

I think I can just make it any officer who can relate messages. I never knew the commanding officer of the 5th Special Forces Group would be leading the combat in the field. I always thought he would be working from his office at Fort Campbell.

Well, the brass for the 5th Group, or any Group will always be stateside. If they're going downrange it's either for some BS PR stunt, or something big is going on...really BIG. Last I knew, Col. Conner was CO of the 5th. Remember, the whole Group won't be going to the sandbox, just elements of the WHOLE unit....and the Green Berets/Special Forces consists of THOUSANDS of soldiers. Over 10,000 at my last recall.

Also keep in mind that the re-activated 3rd Group is/has worked operations in Iraq and Stan. Capt. Eggers of 3rd Group even had a base in the Stan named after him in his honor...he was killed by an IED back in 04 outside of Kandahar.

Also, SpecFor from other Groups, whether 1st, 19th, 20th, 7th, etc can also be assigned TDY (temporary duty) to the 3rd or 5th and be working an Op in the area.

SOOO....you have lots of room to work within. Personally, I think it would be cliche to assigne your soldier to 5th Group.....though several teams from 5th are working their right now as well as guys from 10th Group.

And I'm babbling. :)

GordonK
09-03-2009, 08:16 AM
The more I think about it and the more I read your response, the more I'm inclined to make it just any stateside officer who happens to be an ole friend of the soldier's family. That will not change the plot but should make the whole explanation easier. I have the soldier assigned to the 5th in my research and character chart, but it is never disclosed in the story. After all, the MC has as little knowledge as I am about the military, so he's not likely to even think about which Group.

Thanks again, Vanatru. You've given invaluable advices.

Vanatru
09-05-2009, 09:03 AM
The more I think about it and the more I read your response, the more I'm inclined to make it just any stateside officer who happens to be an ole friend of the soldier's family. That will not change the plot but should make the whole explanation easier. I have the soldier assigned to the 5th in my research and character chart, but it is never disclosed in the story. After all, the MC has as little knowledge as I am about the military, so he's not likely to even think about which Group.

Thanks again, Vanatru. You've given invaluable advices.

No prob, Bro. :) Glad to help out. Keep in mind that many soldiers returning from Iraq/Stan may not be totally open with the family as it's often hard for the family to understand what the soldier/s have gone through. So, when the officer is talking to the family, he may not be as open/glib with them as he would be with another service member. If perhaps the characters father/mother are prior service that might serve as a conduit for the officer to give them info and make it more realistic.