Soldier’s burial divides family


Staff Sergeant Clint Storey will be buried in his hometown of Enid, Oklahoma, tomorrow.

For his widow, Palmer resident Melissa Storey, her grief is bound up with anger, as she says it was her husband’s wish to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“What’s left of my heart is in so much pain,” she said yesterday, reached by phone in Oklahoma.

Storey, 30, died on August 4, 2006, after a roadside bomb blast in Ramadi. As if that news wasn’t horrific enough, the family has been torn by a conflict between his widow and mother, who offer different claims of where he wished to be buried.

“My husband’s body is not even in the ground,” Melissa Storey said. “This is making me sick … she dishonored my husband in death.”

The soldier signed a Department of Defense form before he deployed, which left his mother, Carol Storey Inherst, in charge of his remains. The Enid, Oklahoma, woman said her son had told her he wished to be buried at home.

“Clint never mentioned Arlington to me,” she said. “All this is God’s truth.”

“If he had wanted to be buried in Arlington, he had plenty of opportunity” to inform authorities, she said.

Military officials confirmed the mother had final say over her son’s resting place, though it appears the paperwork doesn’t mention where he wanted to be buried, they said.

“Not that I’ve seen,” said Sgt. Virgil Sanders, who was assigned to assist the family with bringing the fallen soldier home.

This is an unusual and unfortunate case, said Nancy I. Elliott, media chief for the U.S. Army base in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. What is unusual is that the soldier designated his mother to bring home his body: widows are normally granted that designation.

What’s not unusual, sadly, is a fight over where a soldier will be buried, she said.

“It happens more often than people would think,” she said.

Storey’s form wasn’t available, being among his personal effects, but Elliott said the paperwork doesn’t designate where a soldier wants to be buried.

“That’s something someone could put in a will,” and Storey didn’t leave one, Elliott said. However, Storey did designate his mother to be in charge of the arrangements, for reasons he didn’t indicate, she said. “That’s a legal form, and the Army has to abide by it,” she said.

Melissa Storey doesn’t plan to abide by it and will take legal action after her second child is born in February.

“This is not over,” she said. “There is a chance there was an oversight.”

A memorial service for Storey will be held in Palmer on August 26, 2006.

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
August 6, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualties The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on August 4, 2006,when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV while conducting combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Calvary Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany. Killed were: Staff Sergeant Clint J. Storey, 30, of Enid, Oklahoma and Sergeant Bradley H. Beste, 22, of Naperville, Illinois. For further information related to this release, contact 1st Armored Division Public.

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