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Old 04-20-2009, 02:31 PM
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Media allowed to cover return of Marine at Dover


Media cover return of Marine casualty

By Randall Chase - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Apr 10, 2009 6:44:57 EDT

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. ó The body of a Marine killed in Afghanistan arrived Thursday at Dover Air Force Base, marking the third time this week that the media was allowed to witness the return of a fallen U.S. serviceman from overseas.

A Northwest Airlines 747 cargo plane that left Ramstein, Germany, bearing the body of Marine Lance Cpl. Blaise A. Oleski of Floyd, N.Y., arrived at 4:50 p.m. at the Delaware base, home to the nationís largest military mortuary. Oleski, 22, was killed Wednesday in Helmand province, the Pentagon said.

As the sun sank lower in a cloud-dappled blue sky, casting shadows on the tarmac, a white-gloved Marine Corps carry team boarded the plane. Stepping in cadence, they flanked the flag-draped transfer case bearing their comradeís body.

Songbirds chirped in the distance as mortuary chaplain Maj. Klavens Noel said a prayer over the fallen Marine.

Members of Oleskiís family then watched solemnly as the team gently moved the transfer case to the end of a cargo loader, which was slowly lowered to the ground.

Dover base commander Col. Manson Morris, accompanied by Marine Lt. Col. Carl Henger and acting Navy Secretary B.J. Penn, stood rigidly as Oleskiís body was transferred into a waiting mortuary vehicle.

Oleskiís family gave permission for the media coverage and watched as the transport vehicle drove off into the distance.

Oleski was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Pentagonís 18-year ban on media covering the return of fallen U.S. service members to the Dover mortuary ended Sunday with the return of an Air Force staff sergeant killed in Afghanistan. An Army specialist killed in Iraq was returned Tuesday and the press was allowed to watch.

The new Pentagon policy gives families of deceased troops the right to decide on media coverage. Of the four families who have been given the option under the new policy, three have consented to coverage, military officials said.
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