Pentagon admits airport arrival ceremonies of our soldiers’ remains are fake

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My heart is just sick over this.

The Pentagon just admitted that those heart-rending “arrival ceremonies” at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, wherein an honor guard carries off a cargo plane the flag-draped coffins supposedly containing the remains of soldiers killed in battle ARE ALL STAGED.

The coffins are empty. Even the cargo planes are fake — they don’t fly.


phony arrival ceremonyJust phony theater: An honor detail comprised of joint military members prepares to escort the remains of fallen servicemembers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War during an arrival ceremony April 26, 2013, hosted by the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. (Photo by Sean Furey/U.S. Navy)

From Stars and Stripes, Oct. 10, 2013:

The Department of Defense unit charged with recovering servicemembers’ remains abroad has been holding phony “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains returning that day from old battlefields.

The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly, and were towed into position. The story was first reported on

The ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii are held up as a sign of the nation’s commitment to its fallen warriors. They have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.

In a statement sent to NBC News, the Pentagon wrote:

“Part of the ceremony involves symbolically transferring the recovered remains from an aircraft to a vehicle for follow-on transportation to the lab. Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability. This transfer symbolizes the arrival of our fallen servicemembers.

“It is important to note that recovered remains ceremoniously transferred from the aircraft to the [bus] have been in the lab undergoing forensic analysis to determine identity. When remains first arrive in Hawaii, JPAC cannot confirm if the remains are those of an American servicemember.”

NBC writes that the ceremonies have been known among some of the military and civilian staff at the base as The Big Lie.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months after two scathing reports were released this summer.

In July, The Associated Press ran a story exposing a 2012 internal JPAC report that found the agency to be “acutely dysfunctional” with some missions that amounted to little more than paid vacations for staffers.

A second investigation released weeks later by the Government Accountability Office found that Pentagon efforts to account for fallen troops missing overseas were inefficient and in need of overhaul, according to congressional sources.

In 2010, lawmakers mandated JPAC to reach an annual goal of recovering at least 200 fallen troops from overseas battlefields by 2015, but it had failed to build the capacity to do so, the GAO found. Currently the Hawaii-based command averages less than 70 individuals per year.

Much of the inefficiency found by the GAO researchers comes down to a turf war between JPAC and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, which shares some of the same responsibilities, Congressional sources said.

The show

According to the NBC report, here’s what the audience was shown:

A C-17 military transport aircraft was parked, its ramp down, outside a hangar at the base. After generals and dignitaries were introduced, a military chaplain said a prayer, the audience sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Taps” was played. Then an honor guard carried flag-draped transfer cases, which look like coffins, down the ramp and placed them in the back of blue buses, which were driven away.

The emcee thanked the audience for “welcoming them home.” The script continued, “After removal from the aircraft, the remains will be taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory. There, JPAC scientists will begin the identification process.”

Citing eyewitnesses and photographs taken behind the scenes, NBC wrote that what actually happened is very different:

Before 6 a.m., the honor guard assembled behind the JPAC headquarters on the base. They loaded transfer cases onto the buses and drove to the hangar.

The honor guard loaded the transfer cases into the pre-positioned C-17, then rehearsed for the ceremony. They then returned to the plane, and waited.

The public was allowed in for the 9 a.m. ceremony: invited politicians, media, families of the missing and veterans. Employees from JPAC were bused over to fill out the crowd.

Then the show began, with tears and salutes as the remains were marched to the buses, then driven off to the lab to “begin the identification process.”

Jesse Baker, an 81-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II and Korea living in Honolulu, told NBC News that he has been to more than 50 of these ceremonies. He said he’s always been under the impression that the plane had just arrived carrying recovered remains.

Baker tried to make sense of why the DOD would work so hard to trick him and other veterans. “That’s disturbing. I don’t know when they stopped being honest and switched over to this Mickey Mouse, but whoever did it, I hope they find him a new job somewhere.”

John Molloy, Chairman of the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition, whom I am honored to call my friend, wrote this email:


Phony ceremonies for 7 years.

That means that both Obama and Bush administrations are complicit.

The Secretaries of Defense Panetta and Gates are complicit. And DASD’s [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense] Newberry, Ray and General Tom are too.

So they have all followed in the footsteps of liars Kissinger, GHW Bush, Powell, Cheney, Carter, Clinton, Armitage, et al.

Someone needs to break out the rope. It’s time.

John Molloy
National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition

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0 responses to “Pentagon admits airport arrival ceremonies of our soldiers’ remains are fake

  1. More of taxpayer monies wasted on Kabuki theatre antics. Shameful and disgusting! When is this charade going to end?

  2. 🙁 This is terrible news, but it’s better we know we’ve been betrayed, than for the government to continue to get away with it. Thank you for posting this story, Dr. Eowyn.

  3. Makes you wonder if there are “crisis actors” among the audience of bereaved family members.

    • After 4 years of blogging and being extremely well-informed, I’m still so trusting I hadn’t thought of that. Brilliant, TD!

      • We have to continue trusting to some degree. It’s one of the redeemable parts of our souls, part of being like a little child with our Lord.

        The cynicism this behavior induces is yet another reason this government’s actions are so disgusting.

        If these ceremonies are theater, then how much is theater? The props? The uniformed guards? The audience?

    • Good one. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

  4. What a disgusting betrayal. Eyewash at it’s most cynical level of dishonesty, indicative of an institutionalized culture of appearances over substance. Perceptions over truth. Seven years worth of this crap!!

    As of late, it seems we find something new to despise and hate about our government daily.

  5. Despicable, but not at all surprising! Tweeted this to Glenn Beck and TheBlaze!

  6. this is a disgusting charade!

  7. Like the boy who kept crying wolf, it’s impossible to believe anything coming from the fed gov

  8. Pingback: Fallen But Not Forgotten – Missing Airmen From Vietnam War Accounted For | The Communicator

  9. Public relations, folks… courtesy of some careerist whose wisdom “perception is reality” comes from years of NOT deploying to a combat zone somehow.

  10. This is a deep and filthy betrayal by the gov’t. I am so deeply disgusted by this and I know so many veterans. As if it is not enough that many who serve our country and pay the highest price are treated in this manner. I weep for them and their families. This goes on while the traitor Obama goes on lavish vacations, is destroying the Republic at every turn and truly hates America. The deceptions being waged and foisted upon the American people, in a word revolting.

    Re-posting over on Patriot’s Corner. Thank you Dr. Eowyn

    Just want ya all to know that everyday I pray for our men and women who serve. Every nighty I burn a candle for those who sacrificed and paid the highest price they can. I am not a vet but tried to join way back 1971. I was 4F three times due to fubar knees. My father, grandfather and uncles all served. Many in our Republic will never,ever forget your service and sacrifice.

    I pray the blood of Jesus over all who serve and I we, are still free, fighting to retain our freedom thanks to you who serve and have served.

    May the Lord watch over each and every one of you.

    I stand as your most obedient and humble servant.

  11. I am so sad over this. Fox news has been so happy that someone woke up after 9 days…(not the only news of course I listen to) Nothing is REAL !!!! Please God
    help us find the truth..

  12. I’m thinking about – and praying for – the FAMILIES….
    Heartfelt thanks for this post, dear Dr. Eo!!


    Dr. Eowyn, You will probably hate me, but I too, am upset about this article, but for totally different reasons. Disclosure here: We have lived at Pearl Harbor/Hickam for 12 years. My husband was and is a proud Marine for 6 years. He has worked at Pearl/Hickham for several years and is in charge of over 100 buildings. He has been inside JPAC many times and never saw anything but highly skilled people, taking their jobs very seriously, trying to provide closure for families. We sat down and reread the article tonight and talked about it for a long time. We have to wonder with all the hate being spread by this admin and the things they are doing to the military, why this would even come to light. considering the sources of the articles, it is plain. NBC and AP, come on. People have to understand, these assorted crews of highly trained people spend lots of time all over the world trying to bring our vets home. The goal is 200 a year, but have been averaging 70. Not bad when you consider the fact they climb hillsides looking for bones in 70 year old crash sites, that are scattered over many acres, dive into the ocean looking for wrecks, entering caves and tunnels and anything it takes to get the job done. This is a long tedious job and it takes days to sift through the dirt and sand. They bring the bones here and send any possible clothing and equipment to Texas. They have as much DNA on record from as many families as possible. Sometimes, it is an impossible job when there are no family members to test. They have to find out if they are even American, which can be overwhelming since we had many multi cultural people in our service. They have gone into North Korea and all over Europe as well as Laos, Viet Nam and other countries. This isn’t going to a grave yard and digging up caskets. It is much more involved than that. Then families are not called and notified and brought here for a closure ceremony until positive ID is accomplished, which could take years, considering so many bones from so many men are in the mix. They have to all be tested and sorted. The families are then brought here and given a ceremony that they were denied so many years ago, Fake, if you want to call it that, harsh that it is. As long as proper protocol and respect was given. Just this year, they were called in to identify two bodies in the gun turret of the Monitor, from 150 years ago. They got the job done. Does this sound like goof offs to you. I am very sensitive to anything military, coming from a long line of servicemen, including my father here on a sub during the war. But, in this case, I think damage has purposely been committed to further denigrate our military. But, honestly, in all our years, we have never heard any of this propaganda being spewed. Just know the families have some closure and are free to take their men home for a proper burial, something they would never have had before. There is no way a military transport plane would fly in and unload bags of bones in front of the families without ID and release them then. This takes months and even years. I hope you can understand our position. We are protective of our military and to think something like this is being twisted to further an agenda is also heart breaking. Thank you


    • Dear Sammo/Glenn47:

      How can I hate you? You are a cherished member of our FOTM family!

      A difference must be made between:

      A. The policy- and decision-makers at the top of several presidential administrations
      B. The honorable people like your husband who actually do the work at Pearl/Hickam Base — and do it well.

      All criticisms are directed at group A, not group B. Group B is as duped as the rest of the American people. 🙁

  14. Bleedin' Obvious

    What? The killing of Osama was all for TV? He died a decade earlier when the video tapes of him had stopped being produced?

  15. Pingback: Pentagon admits airport arrival ceremonies of remains of our soldiers are fake |

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  18. This is absolutely unconscionable and sickening in every respect.


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