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Ellsworth's Mortuary Affairs cares for fallen Airmen

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Upon entering the Air Force, all members swear to support and defend the constitution of the U.S. For some, that commitment results in making the ultimate sacrifice.

Guaranteeing servicemembers who make that sacrifice are honored with the utmost respect, is the mission of the 28th Force Support Squadron Mortuary Affairs section.

"Dignity, honor and respect" is more than a motto to the two Airmen who work in the section - it is more of a way of life.

"It is our duty to make sure fallen servicemembers are transported to their burial location and are given the honors they deserve," said Staff Sgt. Jade Hunter, 28th FSS Mortuary Affairs NCO in charge.

The unit at Ellsworth might be small - consisting of only an NCO in charge and the 28th FSS commander - however, they take on an immense responsibility. They shoulder the difficult load of supervising and coordinating all aspects of handling remains and ensuring they are properly cared for.

Mortuary Affairs personnel follow step-by-step instructions to ensure all aspects of the burial process is conducted in accordance with Air Force standards. From coordinating the release of human remains and the embalmment process, to making sure the deceased is in proper uniform.

"We take every detail seriously, "said Hunter. "It is the least we can do in honor the fallen."

Administering every aspect of paying homage to those that embodied the service before self creed is not for the faint of heart.

"Sometimes, it's hard not to cry with the families, but I know I need to be strong for them," Hunter said. "Caring for them is really important to me."