News: 4th IBCT, 3rd ID soldier serves to honor fallen heroes
Story by Sgt. Sarah Bailey
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers in the United States Army proudly serve their country and are willing to risk their lives so their families and friends can live freely. For those soldiers who give their life on the battlefield, it is the responsibility of the Army to ensure they are respectfully returned to their families.
U. S. Army Staff Sgt. Keish Clinkscale serves as a mortuary affairs specialist with the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently deployed to Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Clinkscale has made it her personal mission to honor the fallen soldiers by ensuring they return to their families.
Clinkscale, originally from Columbia, S.C., received her degree in mortuary science from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Services in 1995 and has been actively working in the field for 25 years. She joined the Army in 1997, and still uses her skills while serving. “Making sure all the fallen heroes returned back to their loved ones was a way I could serve my country,” said Clinkscale.
As a mortuary affairs specialist, Clinkscale receives and processes documentation of human remains, tentatively identifies the individual, then prepares the soldier for their transportation to Dover Port Mortuary in Dover, Del., where they are positively identified and returned to their families.
Since being in the Army, Clinkscale has served a number of duty assignments throughout the world. In 2007, she became an instructor at the Mortuary Affairs Department at Fort Lee, Va., where she taught incoming soldiers the skills needed to be mortuary affairs specialists. “Turning young soldiers into elite mortuary affairs specialists was one of the greatest jobs I ever had in the Army,” she said. While serving in Italy, Clinkscale served in the United States Army – Africa and was given the opportunity to train African soldiers on mortuary science.
Over the course of her 16-year Army career, Clinkscale has helped return approximately 200 soldiers to their loved ones, a job she has taken pride in.
Currently, Clinkscale is deployed at Forward Operating Base Shank. When called upon, she is able to serve her country and do her part to support her fallen comrades. “I’m often asked “how can you do that job?” and to me, being able to help lay a fallen hero to rest brings about a sense of peace and accomplishment to my heart,” Clinkscale said.