fired for photo of flag-drapped coffins in Iraq
Thursday, April 22,
worker whose photograph of coffins bearing the
remains of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq was
published by The Seattle Times has been fired by
the military contractor that employed her.
Tami Silicio and
David Landry, a co-worker she recently
married, were fired Wednesday by Maytag Aircraft
Corp. of Colorado Springs, Colo., for violating
federal government and company rules, said
William L. Silva, president of Maytag and
executive vice president of its corporate
parent, Mercury Air Group Inc. of Los Angeles.
He would not elaborate.
"I feel like I was hit
in the chest with a steel bar and got my wind
knocked out," Silicio said. "I have to admit I
liked my job and I liked what I did."
Landry wrote in an
e-mail to The Times that he was proud of his
wife, adding that they would soon return home.
policy that has drawn intense debate since it
was adopted in 1991, the Pentagon bars news
organizations from photographing caskets
being returned to the United States, citing
the sensitivities of bereaved families.
"We've made sure that
all of the installations who are involved with
the transfer of remains were aware that we do
not allow any media coverage of any of the stops
until (the casket) reaches its final
destination," Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia
Silva said Silicio, 50,
of Edmonds, and her husband were fired after
military officials raised "very specific
concerns," which he would not identify.
"They were good
workers, and we were sorry to lose them," Silva
said. "They did a good job out in Kuwait and it
was an important ob that they did."
In the year ending June
30, Maytag accounted for $24.4 million of
Mercury's $429 million in revenue, roughly 5.7
Silicio, a mother of
three who previously worked as a Seattle-area
event decorator and as a truck driver for a
different contractor in Kosovo, took the
photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo
plane about to depart from Kuwait International
Airport on an unspecified day in April.
sent the image to Amy Katz, a
stateside friend who worked with her in
Kosovo. Katz provided it to The Times, which
then obtained permission from Silicio to
publish it without compensation.
It appeared in the
center of the front page Sunday, along with an
article on the war in Iraq and a locally
produced feature on Silicio's job in Kuwait.
She said she hoped the
photo would help show relatives of fallen
soldiers the care and devotion that civilian and
military crews devote to returning the remains
of their loved ones.
"It wasn't my intent to
lose my job or become famous or anything,"
After appearing in The
Times, the photograph was posted on Web sites
and has been widely discussed over the Internet.
The Times reported
Thursday that its decision to print the
photograph was supported in most of the e-mails
and telephone calls the newspaper has received
from across the country.
Michael R. Fancher wrote about the
decision to print the photograph in his weekly
column Sunday and appeared Wednesday on ABC's
"Good Morning America" with Rep. Mike
Castle, R-Del., who supports the Pentagon
"Some will see the
picture as an anti-war statement because the
image is reminiscent of photos from the Vietnam
era, when the press wasn't denied such access,"
Fancher wrote," but that isn't Silicio's or The