Casket preparation before family, media or
public viewing. Caskets being moved by
commercial aircraft are normally placed in a
protective shipping container made of heavy
cardboard or similar material (with a wood or
particleboard bottom) by the Navy-contracted
mortuary. This outer protective material must be
removed before family, media or public viewing.
Not doing so will result in media photos of a
crated casket being taken out of an airplane,
creating an image of a fallen shipmate coming
home in a cardboard box. With the assistance
of the CACO, determine who is removing the
outer material and when, who is draping the
casket, and so forth.
Family member presence at the arrival of the
remains. If family members are going to be
present when the remains arrive, what is the
procedure to escort them to the arrival site?
Support personnel. Where will the honor guard
be positioned before and after arrival? Is there a
special provision to expedite getting the escort
off the arriving aircraft and down to the honors
Be ready to give recommendations to the CACO on
anticipated media interest and interaction and the church
and graveside services so the family can be briefed,
consulted and appropriate actions taken. One of the first
steps is making an advance visit to the church, funeral
home and cemetery. Some items to ask about during the
advance visit include the following:
l Inside. What is the churchs policy on media
coverage of services and the recommended
. Outside. Where can the media be positioned to
get arrival and departure photos of the remains,
family and mourners with minimum disruption?
What time will the remains arrive at the church?
What is the route to the cemetery and how long
will it take? What is the approximate start and
end time of the graveside service?
. Where is the burial site? Once the site is
identified, select an adjacent location relative to
the sun at a distance favorable for media
coverage. Rope off the area in advance. Consider
parking areas and entrance/exit locations for the
media and PAO escorts.
Although these guidelines are based on a specific
scenario, they can be easily modified to fit your
individual needs. For more detailed information, consult
NAVMILPERSCOMINST 1770 (series).
NAVY FAMILY SUPPORT
Before a disaster strikes, the PAO should meet with
all command family groups to be sure they understand
the organization of the command and the ways they can
obtain information in a crisis. Commands may use
telephone trees and liaison with the ombudsman to
ensure a timely and accurate internal information flow.
It will also assist Navy families in dealing with the
intrusions into their privacy by the news media. The
ombudsman network should include the following:
Family Service Center
Units type commander
During a disaster, the PAO or senior journalist
channels accurate information through the chain of
command to the families as quickly as possible, using
the ombudsman network previously described. It is a
race to inform the families before the media does. The
media may report highly inaccurate information in a
crisis, so it is better that the families learn about it
through their telephone network or even in specially
You and the PAO may also use the external media
to inform your internal audience during a crisis. For
example, the establishment of a special information hot
line at the CIB or Family Service Center can be
reported by the news media to assure wide distribution
to dependents and other family members. When there is
an accident involving casualties, the Bureau of Naval
Personnel Emergency Communications Center (ECC)
at the Navy Annex in Arlington, Viginia, contacts news
networks to request they publicize their emergency hot
line numbers. Obtain these numbers from BUPERS and
release them to the local media as well.
NAVY FAMILIES AND THE MEDIA
The Navys policy is to protect the privacy of its
personnel and family members, especially in times of
crisis. While it is the right of every American to talk to
the news media if they desire, Navy family members
should never feel pressured into giving an interview. If
a Navy family member is contemplating a media
interview, the PAO and senior journalist should offer
advice and help before a final decision is made.