A unit of the U.S. Department of Defense has been holding so-called “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains of missing American service men and women returning that day from old battlefields.
After NBC News raised questions about the arrival ceremonies, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly but were towed into position.
The solemn ceremonies at a military base in Hawaii are a sign of the nation’s commitment to returning and identifying its fallen warriors. The ceremonies have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
The ceremonies also have been known, at least among some of the military and civilian staff here, as The Big Lie.
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