Heartwrenching: This Is What U.S. Soldiers Do to Honor Their Fallen Comrades Overseas

Long before a fallen soldier's family hears the news, his comrades perform a solemn, powerful ceremony: the hero-ramp.

may 2014 POLI soldiersRobert L. Cunningham

While embedded with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, photographer and war correspondent Robert L. Cunningham witnessed a rare and chilling ritual: the hero-ramp ceremony.

“Robert took this photograph at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan, capturing the silence and solemnity of a hero-ramp ceremony,” says author Steven Hartov, who worked alongside Cunningham to publish the 2014 book of photo essays, Afghanistan: On the Bounce.

“Just fallen in combat, draped in an American flag, a soldier passes through a cordon of comrades. This is a moment of secrets kept, for only his warrior brothers and sisters know that he is gone. It will be some time before his wife gasps with the news. His parents and children haven’t yet been informed. Only later will they know that 200 souls wept here with him and served as his most devoted bearers to that final fight.”

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