Mortuary Affairs mission to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

Respectful treatment and honor for the deceased have been abiding aspects of every human society since time out of mind, and carry special significance in the military milieu.

To ensure that rigorous and appropriate practices are followed to the fullest extent for American service members serving in Africa, a U.S. Army Africa Mortuary Affairs (MA) team recently completed training Soldiers of the 2-137th Calvary of the Kansas Army National Guard deployed to the Horn of Africa.

Staff Sgt. Keish R. Clinkscale-Hallman and Sgt. Daniel King led a two-week, USARAF Theater Mortuary Affairs Office course for 25 Soldiers serving at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training focused on search and recovery of human remains and personal effects, and collection point operation procedures, as well as allowing for the validation of MA equipment on hand in the theater.

“When new Soldiers are deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, we create search and rescue teams, and collection point operations teams,” said Clinkscale-Hallman, who is USARAF’s MA Noncommissioned Officer in Charge.

“The team members are chosen from each unit and are trained by me. They conduct their MOS (military occupational specialty) daily, and when a death occurs on Camp Lemonnier, they focus on processing and evacuating remains until they repatriated back to their loved ones,” she said.

The prime focus for the MA training is on searching for, documenting, recovering and evacuating human remains and personal effects from an area of incident to the Landstuhl Morgue in Germany or to the Dover Port Mortuary in Dover, Del., for final processing and disposition, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joachim Consiglio of USARAF G-4.

And training is conducted by the best: With 13 years as an MA specialist, and more time in the same professional capacity in civilian life, Clinkscale-Hallman is a former instructor at the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center in Fort Lee, Va., where she instructed service members from all components during Advanced Individual Training leading to the MA MOS.

The recent course is a full, 40-hour engagement that includes classroom and field training. Service members demonstrate skills that include locating, securing, and retrieving remains and personal effects, said Clinkscale-Hallman. They also learn to complete required records of search and recovery, and create evacuation tags for each set of human remains and personal effects processed.

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