ROSEVILLE — Reports are circulating that the U.S. Department of Justice failed to pay for a fallen Roseville Marine's flight to her final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery. The Pentagon, however, says the stories circulating involving Sergeant Nicole Gee are not telling the full story.
On Wednesday, Congressman Kevin Kiley sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding answers about the $60,000 he says the family was forced to pay to transport Sgt. Gee's body in a second flight to Virginia.
Kiley said he learned of the accusations from Rep. Cory Mills of Florida who claimed he learned the news from Gold Star Families with loved ones killed in the same attack.
"When I heard this report that they had to worry about this, the cost of putting her final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, I was truly shocked," Kiley said.
Sgt. Gee was one of 13 American servicemembersin 2021 as the United States pulled its troops from Afghanistan. The military initially transported the 23-year-old back to Roseville to be honored in her hometown, but then her family decided to have her buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In response to accusations over the Pentagon refusing to cover those second transport costs, the Department of Justice told CBS13 they were in constant communication with Sgt. Gee's family. A statement from a department spokesperson read, in part:
"The Marine Corps stayed consistent with its policy that all costs associated with internment be borne by the government. At this time, we have no record of any incurred charges or any pending requests for reimbursement associated with the transportation of Sgt. Gee's remains to Arlington National Cemetery."
Per department policy, "the primary mode of transportation will be dedicated military or military contracted aircraft if air transportation is required to further transport the deceased member from the preparing mortuary to the place selected by the PADD. All other remains requiring air transportation will be flown on commercial airlift."
We've since learned the nonprofit Honoring Our Fallen stepped in to avoid having Sgt. Gee's remains transported via commercial airline. The founder, Laura Herzog, said she personally secured an in-kind donation of $60,000 for a flight in a private aircraft instead.
"No monies were exchanged or expected to be paid by our organization or the family. This was a donation made by a veteran who donated this service to us to assist us in honoring Sgt. Gee," Herzog said. "We are proud of our support to Sgt. Gee and her family. It takes a village and I am proud of our communities that came together to honor and support her sacrifice."
The military says Marine Corps casualty assistance officers have been in direct communication with Sgt. Gee's family and they remain in contact today.
"The Marine Corps takes very seriously the transfer of remains of our Marines – they never leave a Marine behind, and they care for the families of their fallen Marine," the Department of Defense spokesperson said.
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