U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers subordinate to the 369th Sustainment Brigade conducted a relationship-building, information-sharing dialogue that commenced on May 31, 2023.
The dialogue signified a historic milestone. For the first time, U.S. and Israeli forces came together to share knowledge and respect for the handling of fallen warriors.
This successful convoy allowed the U.S. Army to set up the Mobile Integrated Remains Collection System (MIRCS) in Israel, showcasing its capabilities and presenting a robust, streamlined and dignified system for handling fallen warriors.
According to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Yensy Carty, 673rd Quartermaster (QM) Company mortuary affairs team noncommissioned officer in charge, the MIRCS provides a solution to the challenging task of adequately collecting, preserving and transporting the remains of fallen warriors on the battlefield.
The system offers a respectful way to manage remains through state-of-the-art preservation technology, advanced collection equipment, identification and documentation, the preservation of personal effects, tracking and reporting, as well as religious sensitivity.
The 673rd QM, an Army Reserve unit based out of Delaware, demonstrated the solemn and meticulously choreographed ritual, known as dignified transfer, to the Israeli military personnel. It is a process filled with respect and honor, symbolizing the U.S. military’s gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice made by fallen warriors from the U.S. and those from partner nations.
U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Gabriel Montalvo, with the mortuary affairs team, said it is a real honor to demonstrate the values associated with the ritual given to each fallen warrior and show allies that this is the respect their service members receive.
“What my team and I provide is a respectful preparation for the last goodbye of a family to their fallen warrior,” Montalvo said. “The process allows a family to have closure with their service member.”
The Israeli military personnel shared information about burial traditions with U.S. Army personnel by showing a traditional, kosher wood casket.
According to Jewish tradition, man is created equal. Therefore, he is equal in death, which is why Rabbinic authorities recommend using simple caskets that reflect this democracy and prevent the unnecessary expense of elaborately adorned coffins.
The sharing of burial traditions between Israeli and U.S. military personnel was more than an exchange of customs. It revealed mutual respect and understanding for every individual’s equality and inherent dignity, both in life and death. This recognition extends beyond burial rituals, influencing a broader cooperative relationship between the two nations because allies and partners enable strategic readiness.
Capt. Amanda Longoria, the officer in charge of the 673d QM mortuary affairs team, said it was essential to learn about Israel’s needs regarding interacting with U.S. mortuary affairs.
“The U.S. and Israel are going to work more together in the future,” Longoria said.
“I feel honor, empathy and compassion for what I do,” Montalvo said. “And I feel honored sharing what I do, and I would gladly share my experience with partner nations again.”