DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
from the 436th Equipment Maintenance Squadron’s fabrication flight here
finished remodeling a mortuary transfer vehicle Jan. 16, raising its
capacity from two transfer cases to six.
When servicemembers die on foreign soil their
remains are transported to the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary
Affairs here where workers prepare them for their final resting place.
Mortuary officials requested bids from local
businesses to remodel the vehicle. When the bids came in, Tech. Sgt.
Thomas DiCuirci, of the 436th EMS metals technology shop, said his section
could complete it for much less than the local bids.
When the project began, Sergeant DiCuirci knew what
the end product needed to be and called on the specialists in his shop and
airmen from the 436th and 512th airlift wings here, plus workers from the
439th Maintenance Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., to come up
with an initial plan. The plan was continually modified until the project
“When a problem would arise, we would talk about
it and work on how to fix it,” Sergeant DiCuirci said.
“It was great,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ralph
Doty, 436th EMS fabrication shop superintendent. “One person would have
an idea and another would add to it. It was like a snowball effect.”
With everyone contributing to the design of the
truck, it has modifications that make it unique.
“We would find pieces of metal that would normally
be considered scraps and they would actually be useful for other things on
the truck,” Sergeant DiCuirci said. “Some of the items on the truck
that are unique are the stops on the rollers, the locks at the end of the
rollers, rails to help guide the transfer case onto the rollers and even
the bars to hold the doors when the wind blows.”
Many times, airmen from fabrication flights do not
get to see how their work affects the war mission; however, news reports
of servicemembers dying meant their work was important. With this
motivating them, they completed the project in only six weeks.
“Nobody ever complained about working on the
truck,” Chief Doty said. “They looked at this as if they were the ones
who were going to (drive and use) the truck and wanted to make it more
“These guys know what the guys (in Iraq) are
doing,” Sergeant DiCuirci said. “For those giving the ultimate
sacrifice, we are giving them a respectful return to their families.”
While many people want to show off their creations,
the airmen who built the truck know its purpose and wish there were a way
to keep it locked away and unused.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished with
(remodeling) the truck, but I’m also sorry that we (need it) in the
first place,” said Tech. Sgt. Terry Willis of the 512th EMS.