"This has got to be one of the worst jobs that I would ever have to be called to do," says Marine Captain Kraig Smith. He's served in the corps for over 10 years with a towering stature and a commanding presence. But all of that is humbled in the face of death.
"It's called a CACO, or Casualty Assistance Call Officer.," he said. It's the delicate duty of personally informing a family that their son or daughter has been killed in action. "We try to be as compassionate as we can, allowing them time to take their frustration out or what might happen," he said.
Often times, what might happen includes the full spectrum of emotions. "There's a lot of reactions to it. There might be denial, there might be anger, there may be dismissal that, 'No, no, this is not for me, you got the wrong house,' but in reality, once that family calms down and understands what our job is there for, I imagine that most families are going to be very glad that we're there in the long run," he said.
In addition to providing emotional support, the job entails a laundry list of other duties. "This is my Casualty Assistance bible, if you want to say, its got all the orders," he said, pointing to a black binder filled with three inches of protocol instructions. Details on how to fill out insurance forms (the typical policy carried by a marine is in the range of $250,000), burial procedures, everything and anything that accompanies the loss of a marine. "We do not leave our fellow comrades behind and that goes for the family members also," he said.