It takes a special breed of human to be able to handle the remains and personal effects of fallen brothers and sisters in arms. These caring soldiers are meticulous in their recovery, collection, evacuation and establishment of tentative identification of each fallen member of the Department of Defense. The 92M MOS in the Army - Mortuary Specialist - also inventory, contain, and evacuate personal effects of deceased DoD personnel. The 92M are also recovery specialists at the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. The Mortuary Affairs Specialist, as the name suggests, is responsible for looking after the remains of deceased military personnel.
Brief History of Army Mortuary Affairs
Before the Civil War, most American soldiers were buried near the site of their deaths, and there wasn’t an organized effort to identify the deceased. This changed during the Civil War, when commanders were charged with identifying their dead troops. Later during the Spanish-American War, that policy was updated to put into place a formal process for notifying a dead soldier’s next of kin.
Until the Korean War, deceased troops were buried in temporary graves until they could be returned to American soil. But during that conflict, the “concurrent return” policy went into effect, requiring troops killed in action to be immediately returned to the United States when possible.
Duties of MOS 92M
In addition to helping recover and identify soldiers killed in action, military occupational specialty (MOS) 92M is charged with disinterring remains from temporary graves, and helps prepare, preserve and ship remains. They also inventory, safeguard and evacuate any deceased soldier’s personal effects.
One of the hardest parts of this difficult job is assisting in mass casualty burials.
There is medical and scientific training involved in this training. A very important part of the duties of MOS 92M is ensuring that remains are handled in a sanitary way, to prevent any contagious disease from spreading.
Mortuary affairs specialists will accompany dead soldiers’ remains and personal effects to their final resting place, and assist with arrangements for military honors at their burial site. Other duties of this MOS are the following:
- Search areas for unburied dead, unmarked graves, personal effects and identification to help determine missing or killed in action or training are fully accounted for.
- Determine and record recovery locations on maps, sketches and overlays.
- Establish and record tentative identification
Training for MOS 92M
Job training for a mortuary affairs specialist requires ten weeks of Basic Combat Training and seven weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instruction. These soldiers divide their time between classroom instruction and field training. Today, in the Army, the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center (JMAC) was established at Fort Lee, VA under the Quartermaster School. Here the business of the JMAC provides initial and advanced Mortuary Affairs training for officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel from all five branches of the armed services. Each Service Branch remains responsible for its own personnel unless otherwise directed. Also, individual services are the direct initial contact with family members of deceased personnel.
Qualifying as a Mortuary Affairs Specialist
To be eligible to serve as MOS 92M, soldiers need to score at least an 88 on the general maintenance (GM) aptitude area on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
No Department of Defense security clearance is required to serve as MOS 92M.
Similar Civilian Occupations to MOS 92M
While the day-to-day conditions will be very different from working as a military mortuary specialist, the training you receive in this role will prepare you for a wide variety of roles in the mortuary sciences after you separate from the Army.
You will be qualified to seek work as an embalmer, a funeral attendant, a funeral director and to train mortuary school students. Most states require an exam and a license to work in a funeral home or other mortuary environment. Many military members will choose a path within law enforcement and use these skills obtained in the Army doing forensic science on a federal, state, or local level.