Proposed law would change policy for military troop remains

New law would require military escorts for remains

SAN DIEGO - Military service members killed overseas would have a uniformed escort from battlefield to burial under a proposed new law pending in Congress.

The law is being proposed to counter the mistakes and missteps that came to light at Dover Air Force Base, when unidentified remains were tossed into landfills, and at Arlington National Cemetery, where some grave markers did not coincide with burial records.

The change in law would have someone in uniform accompany the fallen warrior and ensure that someone is responsible for each step, possibly even punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if something goes wrong.

It is that last portion which Kathy Prout of Coronado disagrees with.

"To have their career ended because they were trying to do a good deed, that's not right," Prout said.

Prout's husband, James, a former commanding officer at Naval Base San Diego and the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, was killed in a plane crash in 1995.

"You never ever think it's ever going to be you," she said.

Since her husband's death, she has been working on behalf of other survivors.

Though the new law would not have applied to her since her husband died in the U.S., she worries about the possibility of a uniformed service member being deployed or transferred while assigned to a fallen warrior's family.

"There has to be a transition from one person to the next that all that information gets passed along so the family isn't left in the lurch," said Prout.

The law has a provision that would not necessarily make one person responsible, but there would have to be a formal chain of custody hand off.

The bill passed the House of Representatives, and it is pending in the Senate.

Print this article Back to Top