By Staff Sgt. DALTON Smith | 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | Feb. 21, 2017

February 21, 2017 — The U.S. Central Command’s (USCENTCOM) only Mobile Integrated Remains Collections System (MIRCS) is ran and operated by only three Soldiers in Erbil, Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Gustavo Padilla, Spc. Jose Perez and Spc. Brian Ramirez, all mortuary affairs specialists with the 246th Quartermaster Company (Mortuary Affairs), an U.S. Army Reserve unit based out of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, have been trained and are all subject matter experts with operations and procedures related to theater level, mobile remains collections and transfers for Fallen Heroes.

The MIRCS is a self-contained shelter with four main areas; receiving and processing area, refrigerated storage area for remains, administrative area and storage for operational supplies. It consists of all components necessary to deploy, move and operate in support of full spectrum of military and peacetime disaster support. It can be transported via land or by plane.

The 246th Qm. Co. (MA) is the only operational mortuary affairs unit in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility and this is only the second rotation that a team has operated the MIRCS while deployed. The current team has been on a six month deployment since November 2016 and will be replaced by three more Soldiers from the same company.

The 246th Qm. Co. (MA) Soldiers have received a large amount of support from Forward Logistics Elements (FLE) and the Canadian and Norwegian military. They frequently improve their setup in Erbil with constant expansion of their work area.

“We train and work with the foreign militaries because we never know what kind of Soldier may be coming through the plastic vinyl doors,” said Padilla.

Since being on ground, the team has added another work area besides the MIRCS. This is a container that includes a steamer and iron for removing wrinkles in flags, a rope system that can drape flags over top a transfer cases (casket) and of course, a transfer case.

This container and system are not Army issue though. The three Soldiers have created this from scraps and parts lying around Logistics Support Area (LSA) Danger, along with support from their counterparts in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. They have gone to great lengths to preserve the pristine appearance of the American Flag and to honor the Fallen Heroes by creating this system.

“My enlisted Soldiers up North are very knowledgeable and know what they are doing,” said 1Lt. Mayra Hernandez, the 246th Qm. Co. (MA) USCENTCOM theater mortuary affairs office officer in charge. “We coordinate to get them basic and mortuary affairs supplies from our containers in Kuwait.”

During a mass casualty event, the MIRCS team could handle three bodies at a time. It would take two to three hours per body for a full transfer process. The maximum amount of time allowed is four hours.
“It makes me feel valuable, it gives me meaning,” said Ramirez. “The interest of how our body works and being able to see which organ does what function is amazing.”

The MIRCS team can also hold local national (Iraqi) bodies. They cannot process or transfer a local though; they only hold until the Next Of Kin (NOK) or local representative arrives to retrieve the remains.

The 246th Qm. Co. (MA) is currently a down trace unit of the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) Operational Command Post, based out of Camp Arifjan and commanded by Maj. Gen. Paul C Hurley Jr. The 1st TSC’s mission is to provide logistics support throughout the USCENTCOM area of operations.

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