Death Reference Desk
June 25, 2011
Earlier this week, NPR ran an interview with Jess Goodell, author of the new memoir Shade it Black: Death and After in Iraq. The new book is Goodell’s account of her time as a Marine working in the Mortuary Affairs Unit in Iraq in 2004. Terry Gross interviewed Goodell in a segment entitled Death and After in Iraq: Memoir of a Mortuary, which you can listen to here.
The Mortuary Affairs Unit is the platoon tasked with recovering and processing the remains of fallen troops. Out in the field, Goodell and her unit would recover bodies and body parts and bring them back to base for further processing. Then they would prepare the remains for shipping back home. Back at base, Goodell’s job was to document identifying marks on the body like scars or tattoos, etc. The next step involved going through pockets of the dead soldiers to recover anything that could be given back to the family.
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