WhaT do we ReallY OwN?

Fallen troops’ effects handled with care Medals, mail — maybe even a forbidden pup. These folks get it home.

“ABERDEEN, Md. – The personal stuff they carried to war, the remnants of lives lost in Iraq, was spread neatly across long tables in a drafty warehouse last week.
Mortuary affairs troops wearing surgical gloves at the Joint Personal Effects Depot went about the tedious work of counting and separating out what belonged to the soldier and what belonged to the government…

In three years of war, Lt. Col. Deborah Skillman, the depot’s commander, said her unit at the military’s Aberdeen Proving Ground has cut the time for getting the personal effects back to the families from 45 to 22 days.
But the checklist efficiency does little to relieve the stress of handling, photographing and doing the inventory on the last items a fallen comrade may have held, laughed about, cared about.

“You’re touching somebody’s life here,” said Army Capt. Cathy Carman, 34, of Eustis, Fla., who is in charge of the section that carefully packs and boxes up the belongings for shipment home.
“It’s an emotional job; nobody here will argue about that,” Carman said.

She gestured to a box of tissues kept nearby for the 120 troops and civilian personnel, many of them retired military, who handle the items belonging to soldiers and Marines killed in action.
Driver’s license, house keys, letters from home, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, diaries, cigarette lighters, Air Jordans, photo albums, children’s drawings, Christmas stockings. Also the spent cartridges from the farewell salute fired by the service member’s buddies in Iraq.

When a soldier is killed, his unit inventories and packs what he kept at his bunk site in rucksacks, sea bags and footlockers.
The personal effects of the more than 2,300 troops killed in Iraq have all gone first to the Dover, Del., Air Force Base and then to Aberdeen.

Rivera pointed to a torn-up piece of a brown paper bag with “We Love You” in what appeared to be a child’s scrawl written in crayon upon it.
“We don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s something a kid in Iraq gave to him. It was in his stuff and that’s going home..”

Is it about what they “own”?
Sometimes we construct meanings for material objects much in the same way we construct meanings for people..
We all have that special, cherished, or “favorite” possession.
Yes this is our “stuff”..a mere tangible item – clothing, jewelry..perhaps a saved letter.
But it is not of consequence what this soldier “owned”. It is now about letting those who loved him or her own more “joy” through the memories of her prized possession…own more love by letting his memory shine out to all those honor him…
and for us ..to own more respect for those laying down their lives for us…even as we speak.

You must see this over at thirdworldcountry. it’s time for a little less talk and ALOT more action on illegals.
The Amboy Times has an insightful look at N. Korea and nukes.

14 Responses to “WhaT do we ReallY OwN?”

  1. Always On Watch says:

    I’m glad that somebody does this task. How difficult it must be!

    General Patton used to send home to the boys’ mothers locks of hair; he often did the clipping himself. Old Blood and Guts had a heart for the kids who died under his command.

    The removal of personal effects is more impersonal now, but I know these families really appreciate that they can get back something as a tangible tribute. I’m sure that the families of the fallen are grateful for what these in Aberdeen do.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. American Crusader says:

    Damn Angel, good post. That has to be a tough job and it’s done for both the fallen soldier and his family. Then at the funeral you get groups like the Westborough Baptist Church protesting and calling the soldiers death God’s punishment for homosexuality.

    Is this a crazy world or what?

  3. WomanHonorThyself says:

    AOW..dint know that bout Patton how interesting!
    AC!..always gr8 to see u and jus thinkin bout the protestors at soldier’s funerals makes mah blood boil!

  4. Gayle says:

    Patton was hard on the enemy, but he truly cared for his troops. I wish they still did that. Think about how much a lock of hair would mean to a wife, mother, father, brother, sister, or a sweetheart?

    Really good post here, Angel. That’s got to be a tremendously tough job!

  5. Iran Watch says:

    I’ve seen Marines I served with the have their belongings collected after being severely injured or killed. It’s a very empty feeling knowing your friend or comrade isn’t coming back.

  6. eyesallaround says:

    Great post. It reminds me of a 1944 Howitzer shell I found in a house in Portland once. I hung on to it over the years because I thought it was cool. For some reason it was important to a soldier. I should post on it.

  7. Lady Jane says:

    Oh, what a sad task to undertake, but so noble too. I’m so glad someone does this. Thanks for telling us about it, Angel.

  8. radar says:

    Angel, I am the grandson, son and father of soldiers and am a veteran myself. I do appreciate your blog, now that I have found it, and have put you on the blogroll at my place.

  9. ABFreedom says:

    Excellent post Angel, and it says a lot about the quality of the military. There is not to many countries that have the same respect and honor for those fighting for freedoms.

  10. The MaryHunter says:

    Real moving, Angel. In Annapolis we see lots of young midshipmen in their training for what could end up as the ultimate sacrifice. I try not to think about that aspect, but it creeps in now and then.

    Thanks for this post.

  11. Brooke says:

    Excellent post!

    Probably about two months ago, a guy was selling a kevlar helmet on Ebay, apparantly covered in blood. He claimed it was from a fallen Ft.Hood soldier.

    Needless to say, a few well placed phone calls from Glenn Beck Insiders put a screeching halt to that. The man is now facing Federal charges on two different counts.

    I’d have to do a little archive digging to find it agian, but the point is that some folks are so quick to cheapen the effects of soldiers, when they should be treated with respect. Kudos to these folks!

  12. WomanHonorThyself says:

    Thank u all so much..this was quite an emotional piece…:)

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