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Flag-draped Coffins

Another casualty of war: Woman loses her job over photo of flag-draped coffins.

By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times

A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times.

Silicio was let go yesterday for violating U.S. government and company regulations, said William Silva, president of Maytag Aircraft, the contractor that employed Silicio at Kuwait International Airport.

"I feel like I was hit in the chest with a steel bar and got my wind knocked out. I have to admit I liked my job, and I liked what I did," Silicio said.

Her photograph, taken earlier this month, shows more than 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait. Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States.

Tami Silicio's photo fueled a debate over a U.S. policy on casket images.That policy has been a lightning rod for debate, and Silicio's photograph was quickly posted on numerous Internet sites and became the subject of many Web conversations. Times Executive Editor Michael R. Fancher yesterday appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" news show with U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., who supported the Pentagon policy prohibiting such pictures.

As a result of the broader coverage, The Times received numerous e-mail and phone calls from across the country most of which supported the newspaper's decision.

Pentagon officials yesterday said the government's policy defers to the sensitivities of bereaved families. "We've made sure that all of the installations who are involved with the transfer of remains were aware that we do not allow any media coverage of any of the stops until (the casket) reaches its final destination," said Cynthia Colin, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Maytag also fired David Landry, a co-worker who recently wed Silicio.

Silicio said she never sought to put herself in the public spotlight. Instead, she said, she hoped the publication of the photo would help families of fallen soldiers understand the care and devotion that civilians and military crews dedicate to the task of returning the soldiers home.

"It wasn't my intent to lose my job or become famous or anything," Silicio said.

The Times received Silicio's photograph from a stateside friend, Amy Katz, who had previously worked with Silicio for a different contractor in Kosovo. Silicio then gave The Times permission to publish it, without compensation. It was paired with an article about her work in Kuwait.

Silicio, 50, is from Edmonds and previously worked as an events decorator in the Seattle area and as a truck driver in Kosovo. Before the war started, she went to work for Maytag, which contracts with the Air Mobility Command to provide air-terminal and ground-handling services in Kuwait.

In Kuwait, Silicio pulled 12-hour night shifts alongside military workers to help in the huge effort to resupply U.S. troops. These workers also helped transport the remains of soldiers back to the United States.

Her job put her in contact with soldiers who sometimes accompanied the coffins to the airport. Having lost one of her own sons to a brain tumor, Silicio said, she tried to offer support to those grieving over a lost comrade.

"It kind of helps me to know what these mothers are going through, and I try to watch over their children as they head home," she said in an earlier interview.

Since Sunday, Silicio has hunkered down in Kuwait as her employer and the military decided her fate.

Maytag's Silva said the decision to terminate Silicio's and Landry's employment was made by the company. But he said the U.S. military had identified "very specific concerns" about their actions. Silva declined to detail those concerns.

"They were good workers, and we were sorry to lose them," Silva said. "They did a good job out in Kuwait and it was an important job that they did."

Landry, in an e-mail to The Times, said he was proud of his wife, and that they would soon return home to the States.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times Company

Reprinted from The Seattle Times:
Typical 22.Apr.2004 09:43


Yet another example of Bu$hCo fascism.

More of the Photo's Bush Doesn't Want You to See 22.Apr.2004 10:01


Eeew 22.Apr.2004 10:19

non-corpse worshipper

Ritualized corpse fetishism. How bizarre. When I die, I hope to be taxidermied, or else plastinated (new-fangled taxidermy).

Also, it's no wonder this war is costing so goddamn much. We're flying C-130s back and forth with only 20 coffins in them. These planes are designed to ferry tanks, and we're bringing 'em back with a couple thousand pounds of human remains. (A couple thousand pounds, that is if the Fallujahns haven't gottem to 'em yet). Try stacking them 6-down. They're flat, aren't they?

Did everyone get a look at that hearse? Looks like a pretty penny, they might as well've lined it in gold. I guess a few more hungry kids would be worth it.

The Link 22.Apr.2004 10:27



wrong coffins 22.Apr.2004 10:44

ed harley

these are the wrong coffins to put on TV. the coffins that we need to show are the ones from 9/11, which mr. bush used in his TV commercials in order to get re-selected. these corpses from iraq, however, are off limits. naturally the media has kept obediently quiet on this blatant and disgraceful hypocrisy. some corpses are to be paraded around a campaign ad. others are to be kept secret.

Memory hole 22.Apr.2004 16:14


Anybody notice that the Memory Hole seems to be down?
Maybe they're just getting slammed due to high traffic, or maybe something else?

Dangerous Photos? 22.Apr.2004 23:17

Curious George

If the argument against showing the photos is that the families will be upset, it doesn't wash. I don't see any names on these coffins. And RECOGNIZING the reality that these people DIED is honoring their memory, rather than allowing them to be shuffled into the country in the dead of night with no one allowed to be present when the plane arrives. Just another aspect of this administration's dirty little secret.

As explosive as the image of dozens of coffins might be, it would be more devastating to see photos of thousands of savagely injured soldiers "looking forward" to months and years of therapy and rehabilitation.

At least Iraqi and world press is getting graphic photos of killed and maimed Iraqi civilians out on the web, despite US press's continuing efforts to ignore them. The same is not true of troops so badly mutilated and injured that they cannot be forced to stay and fight.

They are the true, forgotten and unreported US casualties.

Memory Hole Mirror Site 22.Apr.2004 23:25

North Portlander

I haven't been able to get into Memory Hole, either, but this mirror site seems to be accessible:


Correct Memory Hole Homepage URL 22.Apr.2004 23:44

North Portlander

Sorry folks, that last link was apparently ANOTHER "Memory Hole" site which is not the one under discussion. Here is the correct link for the Memory Hole homepage:


Memory Hole hit by DOS Attack... 23.Apr.2004 07:54


...But here's a good mirror:  http://media.newsfrombabylon.com/war/coffin_photos/dover/
I thought it was just flooded as it's been heavily blogged, but it was confirmed by others to have been a DOS (Denial of Service) attack.
Now, who'd do such a thing?