For seven years, a unit of the US Department of Defence has been holding "arrival ceremonies". The unit handles bodies recovered from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war.
On these occasions, military personnel carry coffins of honoured dead soldiers off C-17 planes, as if they have been brought back that day from the battlefield. The coffins are draped with the US flag.
But the truth is that these ceremonies aren't real at all, NBC News reported. The Pentagon acknowledged on Wednesday that no honoured dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn't even fly but were towed into position. The remains had been in the country for months.
The ceremonies are handled by the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, an agency charged with recovering some 83,000 missing servicemen and women from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The Pentagon insisted that the flagdraped cases do contain human remains recently recovered, just not ones that arrived that day.
Now, the events will be known as "honour ceremonies".
Department of Defence spokesman, Navy Commander Amy Derrick-Frost, told NBC said: "Helping further dupe attendees is the use of a plane that many believed had actually just flown the remains home.
"Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability."
Military officials defended the practice, but accepted the blame for any misconceptions that have arisen.
Said Ms Derrick-Frost: "Based on how media announcements and ceremony remarks are currently written, it is understandable how these 'arrival' ceremonies might be misinterpreted, leading one to believe the ceremonies are 'dignified transfer ceremonies', which they are not."
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