Want to add courtroom drama to wartime family tragedy? Enter the perfect storm of a fallen soldier, cemetery delays and well-intentioned but divorced parents.
The divorced parents of a Marine killed in the U.S. military’s deadliest air crash of the Iraq war are fighting in court over where to bury their son.
The Detroit-area judge who will decide the case scheduled a July 15 hearing on Monday and said she does not want it to turn into a “three-ring circus.”
The parents are arguing over the choice of cemeteries – a new national cemetery that has yet to open or a paternal family plot.
Lance Cpl. Allan Klein, 34, died in January along with 29 other Marine infantrymen and a medic in a helicopter crash. His remains are being kept in a Roseville crypt.
“We should be talking about the wonderful things he did for his country, his family and friends instead of … where we’re going to bury him,” Judge Diane Druzinski said.
Klein’s mother, Rae Oldaugh, wants her son buried in the new Great Lakes National Cemetery. Groundbreaking was held in October, but the cemetery is not expected to be ready for burials until August at the earliest.
Klein’s father, Manfred Klein, apparently also wanted his son buried there but became frustrated by delays. The Klein family now wants to bury Allan in a private cemetery where one of his paternal grandparents is interred.
Manfred Klein said his son never specifically talked about what should happen if he died.
This is truly a pathetic situation, and I don’t mean that derisively towards anyone involved. The soldier should’ve made his wishes clear before going into harm’s way, but one is very reticent to speak ill of the fallen. One parent wants all deserved honors; the other wanted the same but has seemingly found a need for closure. From the available details, neither can really be faulted.
I do not envy the judge in this matter.