Six airmen honored in dignified transfer in New Castle after Dover diversion

 Dignified transfer of fallen soldiers are usually conducted in Dover as pictured here. (File: Cliff Owen/The Associated Press)

Dignified transfer of fallen soldiers are usually conducted in Dover as pictured here. (File: Cliff Owen/The Associated Press)

Six Airmen were honored in a dignified transfer at New Castle Air National Guard Base on Dec. 23rd after the mission was relocated from the Dover Air Force Base due to bad weather.

It was the first time an Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations dignified transfer mission was conducted at the New Castle base.

The Air Force had practiced the diversion back in March when runway construction at Dover began limiting runway options. “We did not realize how much went into the behind-the-scenes preparation for a DT mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Ceselsky, 166th Operations Support Squadron, airfield manager at New Castle, in a statement. 

Many efforts led by the New Castle team were made to ensure the transfer would be successful, according to the Air Force.

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The New Castle location was even redesigned to resemble the Center for Families of the Fallen at Dover Air Force Base, where families gather before departing for the dignified transfer.

Truckloads of furniture were moved from the Great Room at Dover’s base chapel with the assistance of the chapel team and deployers.

Non-profit organization Friends of the Fallen also brought grief material, comfort shawls, blankets, stuffed bears, lamps, plants and refreshments for the families.

“New Castle went above and beyond to make everything run smoothly,” said Capt. Kyle Kodalen, AFMAO dignified transfer officer in charge in a statement. “We know a lot of work went on there before we even showed up at the gate.” More than 200 unit members from the Office of Special Investigations, the 105th Security Forces Squadron, Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York, and the New York Police Department also attended the day of mourning.

Ceselsky said in a statement that he was honored to assist with coordinating the transfer. “The DT mission, in my opinion, was flawlessly executed for having short notice to divert into the Delaware ANG,” he said. “I truly believe we demonstrated the true meaning of Team Delaware.”


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