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Pentagon addresses phony fallen troop ceremonies

Monday - 10/14/2013, 12:47pm  ET

WASHINGTON - A ceremony honoring the arrival of the remains of fallen American service men and women has not been all that it seems, according to NBC News.

An NBC investigation found that solemn "arrival ceremonies" at a military base in Hawaii aimed at honoring the dead did not use the remains of MIA service members that arrived the same day.

Those in attendance thought they were witnessing the return of service members killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea, NBC News says.

Also, the coffins were removed from a plane that couldn't even fly in some cases, according to NBC. The planes were towed into place for the ceremony, the report says.

"Part of the ceremony involves symbolically transferring the recovered remains from an aircraft to a vehicle for follow-on transportation to the lab. Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability. This transfer symbolizes the arrival of our fallen servicemembers," the Pentagon said in a statement.

NBC says photos from behind the scenes show remains used in the ceremonies began the day at a lab waiting for analysis, and later returned to the lab.

The Pentagon issued the statement on what some call "The Big Lie" and said the caskets contain human remains recently recovered -- just not the ones that arrived that day.

After the investigation, the Pentagon admitted to the practice and says it will rebrand the events as "honors ceremonies" instead of "arrival ceremonies."

Read the Pentagon's full statement on its website.

This story has been modified.

WTOP's Alan Etter contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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