Mortuary affairs goes to Washington--so can you

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nicole Langley
  • 436 AW Public Affairs
Thirty-two members of the Port Mortuary staff had an opportunity to visit the nation’s capital Nov. 16 and 17, where they saw the White House, Pentagon, Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery. 

The trip for the staff, including Air Force personnel, spouses, and liaisons from the Army and Marine Corps, was planned for two separate days, so part of the staff could attend each day and still keep things running efficiently at the mortuary.
The 436th Services Squadron mortuary operations officer, 2nd Lt. Dennis Davis, explained that he wanted to coordinate this trip as a way of boosting morale and getting a much-needed thank you to those who work tirelessly to carry out the mortuary’s mission. 

“I wanted to give the troops an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise get, probably,” Lieutenant Davis said.
Although the extent of what individuals can see during a Washington, D.C. trip does depend on the availability and flexibility of the nation’s leaders, planning in advance can result in a trip with similar highlights as the mortuary staff’s trip. 

Both days the group received a White House tour, including a visit to the West Wing to meet Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
In addition, the groups received a private “meet-and-greet” with Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, as well as with staffers from the offices of several other senators. 

A reservist from Minnesota, Lieutenant Davis made initial contact with Sen. Coleman from his home state. According to Lieutenant Davis, after that initial request, Sen. Coleman’s office basically arranged everything for them, including a tour of the capitol building, guided by staffers from the senator’s office. While there, they also had the opportunity to see the senate in session.
After organizing the trip, Lieutenant Davis is knowledgeable on how to plan this type of event and offers wisdom to pass on to other units on base that might be interested in doing the same. 

“It was such a great experience. I’d like others to do this,” Lieutenant Davis said.
According to the Lieutenant, the first step in organizing this type of event should be to make contact with the White House office of scheduling one to two months in advance of the trip, by faxing a letter of purpose, with all of the details and information.
The fax number for the president’s scheduling office is 202-456-6208 and the vice president’s number is 202-456-2971. 

Their offices recommend that the letter of purpose be as thorough as possible, fully explaining the group’s reasons for wanting to visit, exactly who the group is and what they do, potential questions they would like to ask the president or vice president and their desired dates to visit.
According to the president’s office of scheduling, a group has a better chance of being accepted for a meeting if their request is extremely thorough and detailed and if their request is made well in advance.
Once a date is scheduled for a White House tour and possible meet-and-greet with the president or vice president, Lieutenant Davis recommended contacting a senator to schedule a visit to the Capitol. 

Lieutenant Davis said it is a good idea to have the person organizing the trip contact a senator whom they’re a constituent of, so that that senator’s office can help organize the visit.
Lieutenant Davis said that a similar letter of purpose should be sent to the senator’s office, also containing the home state and city of each group member, so that other senators can be alerted of their visiting constituents.
Anyone on base can plan a trip like this to Washington, D.C.
Lieutenant Davis can be reached at