First in 18 Years

A flag-draped coffin bearing the remains of SSgt. Phillip Myers, an explosive ordnance disposal technician who was killed in Afghanistan on April 4, was the first to be viewed by news media at Dover AFB, Del., under the policy change made recently by the Pentagon that overturned an 18-year-long ban on such news coverage. The Pentagon released his name on April 5 and received permission from his family to allow media to cover the transfer of his remains at Dover, the site of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, which serves as DOD’s port mortuary. “The core of the policy is built around the desires of the family members, and it will be the families that decide whether or not media have access to any of these dignified transfers,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said April 1, telling reporters that the policy would take effect April 6. The ban has been in place since 1991, instituted by President George H.W. Bush during Operation Desert Storm. Newly elected President Obama asked Gates to review the policy.