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Honor guards replace forklifts for fallen troops after father takes up cause
In an about-face by the U.S. government four years into the war in Iraq, America's fallen troops are being brought back to their families aboard charter jets instead of ordinary commercial flights, and the caskets are being met by honor guards in white gloves instead of baggage handlers with forklifts.
That change — which took effect quietly in January and applies to members of the U.S. military killed in Afghanistan, too — came after a campaign waged by a father who was aghast to learn that his son's body was going to be unloaded like so much luggage
John Holley said an airline executive told him that was the "most expeditious" way to get the body home.
Persuaded by Hunter and others, Congress passed a law that requires the remains to be flown on a military or military-contracted aircraft. There must be an escort and an honor guard. Commercial airliners are used only if requested by families, or in cases where remains are sent outside the United States.