South Jersey soldier killed in Afghanistan

October 6, 2009 10:35:22 AM PDT
A South Jersey soldier has been killed in combat in Afghanistan. His body was returned to Dover Air Force Base Tuesday, during a solemn transfer ceremony.

Army specialist Michael Scusa hails from Lower Township, Cape May County. He was 22-years-old and was on his second tour of duty. Just two weeks ago he celebrated the birthday of his one-year-old son, Connor Allen. He had named his son after another fallen soldier.

Other than the sound of camera shutters, there was a complete silence. Cameras had limited views as ten fallen soldiers were brought home to the Dover Air Force Base's mortuary aboard a C-17 cargo plane.

It was what the military calls a dignified transfer, rather than a ceremony. The word "ceremony" they say too closely suggests some kind of celebration is taking place. Also, rather than "flagged-draped coffins", the military prefers the media use the term "transfer cases".

Family members of the dead were present on the runway, but they too are kept from the media's view. Only their weeping could be heard from behind the buses where they stood watching the solemn transfer.

The family of U.S. Army Specialist Michael Scusa of Villlas, New Jersey was there, along with five other families. Approval from the families to shoot this dignified transfer was given by six of those families, but no family members apparently requested to speak to the media about their loved ones. Officials at the base also declined requests for on-camera interviews.

The bodies of the other four deceased soldiers were on the same plane, but their families did not give permission for the transfer process to be made public.


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