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  • military question

    If a woman's husband, a pilot in the Gulf War, was shot down, who would be the one to tell her? And how much information would they share with her?

    Thanks for any help.

  • #2
    IMHO I'd imagine they would have the Military Police come knock on her door and break the bad news. They would tell her vague terms like "downed aircraft" and "pilot missing". They wouldn't say he got shot 13 times and was found headless, naked, on a pole.



    • #3
      It depends

      It most likely wouldn't be the MP's. If they live on base, the Base Commander, Wing Commander and/or Chaplain would come tell her. It might also be the pilot's Squadron commander or someone closer to home.

      If the pilot was in a reserve unit and she's living in the civilian world, they might find the closest military personnel to break the news in person.



      • #4
        The MPs at the door seems a pretty well worn scene. I just wasn't sure if they'd send a clergyman or a superior or maybe just a couple MPs.

        As far as the details, I know they won't give the gory bits but I didn't know if they'd be more spefcific than 'shot down' such as the where, when and how ot if all.

        Thanks for your HO.


        • #5
          My vote: the squadron's executive officer, whose job it is to communicate with families, although commanding officers may step in and break the news themselves at their own discretion.

          If she's not living on or near the base, or doesn't have a phone so the abovementioned person can call her -- Western Union.

          This talk of "the nearest military personnel" doesn't compute (no argument intended) -- this isn't the kind of information that's shared with other units or otherwise propagated outwith the squadron or wing, it's personal, in every sense.


          • #6
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            • #7
              Here's a shot at the procedure.

              If she lives in or near a military base, she will be part of a network of wives and family members, that are prepared for this kind of thing.

              Some servicemen specify that information about their being taken capture should be communicated to a specific person other than their wife, if they do not want an official person to break the news. This can be a friend of the family, a brother, father, mother, sister, etc.

              Religious affiliation will be in the service records, as well as which church, synagogue, mosque, etc. the family belongs to. The person officiating at their place of worship may take on the duty if they are regulars.

              Depending upon the military personnel's rank, different offices/functions may be involved. If the unit is deployed, then you'll have a skeleton crew at the base - but there will be a unit with the particular responsibility of communicating such bad news (KIA, MIA). This unit will evaluate each case. A higher officer will warrant someone of similar rank notifying the family, whereas lower ranks may be served by the unit designated. But some unit commanders will want to show they care by involving themselves personally.

              People who perform this duty are trained for it, and know what to look for as they communicate the bad news - in order to help the family cope.

              Military Police would never get such duties, unless they are communicating this to a family member who is incarcerated.


              • #8

                Thanks for your help. Always appreciated.

                Cecil, thanks for the details.


                • #9
                  Re: thanks

                  Cecil has it down the way it is. Military police would not do the service. In the Air Force, at the time of the original Gulf War, the police were known as Security Police. Since then, they have changed their designation to Security Forces.

                  The unhappy job is always done by an officer, usually the commander or a close representative if he is not available. A chaplain normally accompanies him.


                  • #10
                    USAF/Pilot MIA/KIA family notifications

                    I'd check the USAF website and/or good site for USAF SPs.). They may provide more help. From my own military time(1989-1993), I could tell you that DoD rules stated only officers could make offical death notifications. I'm sure most USAF units had a formal policy for these events. BTW: I also heard that most combat pilots would list KIAs(killed in action) as MIA(Missing In Action) so family members could still live on base and get full pay/benefits. Sad, but true. Read Stolen Valor(a great non-fiction book) for more details about KIAs/MIAs.



                    • #11
                      Re: USAF/Pilot MIA/KIA family notifications

                      Here's an article in the NYT which describes the grief involved with this kind of mission... It's very sad reading.



                      • #12

                        Cecil and Beef,

                        Thanks for the help.
                        As always, very much appreciated.


                        • #13
                          Libbykins, I was perusing these boards and ran across your question. The link below is to an article written in USA Today about this subject.


                          The person responsible for delivering the news to Family members is called a CACO, which stands for Casualty Assistance Crisis Officer. This person carries out the wishes
                          of the fallen Service-member as per an Emergency Data Form.

                          The EDF is filled out by whomever the Service-member chooses. It could be a spouse, parents, sibling, etc. Once sealed, this questionnaire remains as private information, only to be opened by the designated CACO in the event of the death of the Service-member.

                          Having filled one out, I can tell you that it's not the easiest thing to do. It's planning something that you hope will never happen.

                          As far as the latter part of your question is concerned, "how much information will they share with her?" goes, after an accident, there is a 'Mishap Investigation' and is handled as classified information until a full report is released up the chain of Command. The next-of-kin is notified of the accident but is not given details.

                          Every Military Installation and every Command within the confines of the base has Spouse Groups. Each Spouse group has what's known as a Call-Tree. They disseminate all Command information via this method. In the event of a death within that particular Command, and only after the spouse or next of kin is notified, will this information go out on the 'Call Tree'.

                          Hope this helps.

                          Best regards,