"MORTUARY AFFAIRS" *

 

 

"Red" is a Mortuary Affairs Officer assigned to a remote overseas location, and he takes his job seriously. During Redís tour of duty, a person fairly high in the wingís chain of command is killed when his jet crashes on a bombing range during a training mission. Air Force regulations leave no doubt whatsoever that all personal effects are to be turned over to the next of kin, and so Red begins the sad task of sorting through and inventorying the personal effects of this deceased pilot (legally referred to as "the decedent").

In the decedentís barracks room closet, Red finds a small footlocker containing various items of clothing, a CD player, and some camping gear. Underneath all of this other stuff Red finds a shoebox, and what he finds in that shoebox shocks him. There are several photographs, all of which he considers to be pornographic. Even more alarming to Red is the fact that he recognizes at least two of the persons in those photographs as personnel presently assigned to the wing--a female captain and a female NCO. Like the decedent, the captain and the sergeant have spouses waiting for them back in the States; and these pictures leave no doubt whatsoever they were engaged in adultery. Nevertheless, Red inventories the pictures along with the decedentís other effects and packs them for shipment, as the rules require.

Once the process is completed, the group commander calls Red into the office and asks to see the inventory. The group commander moves his finger down the page until he stops at the inventoried photographs.

"I want to see those pictures," he says in a very direct way, "and I want to see them now."

After digging them out of the shipping box, Red delivers them to the group commander, who carefully goes through them one-by-one.

"Iíll take care of these," the group commander says. "We donít want to cause his wife any more grief."