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Family Upset After Soldier's Body Shipped As Freight

SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, San Diego TV station KGTV reported.


UPDATED: 10:55 am EST December 13, 2005

A soldier's family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think American war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But the family said that is just not the case.

Dead U.S. troops are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard. But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew John Holley, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

Matthew was a medic with the 101st Airborne and died on Nov. 15.

"When someone dies in combat, they need to give them due respect they deserve for (the) sacrifice they made," said John Holley.

John and Stacey Holley, who were both in the Army, made some calls, and with the help of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Matthew was greeted with honor and respect.

"Our familiarity with military protocol and things of that sort allowed us to kind of put our foot down -- we're not sure other parents have that same knowledge," said Stacey Holley.

The Holleys now want to make sure every fallen service member gets the proper welcome.

The bodies of dead service members arrive at Dover Air Force Base. From that point, they are sent to their families on commercial airliners.

Reporters from KGTV called the Defense Department for an explanation. A representative said she did not know why this is happening.

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