Thursday, June 21, 2012

Family needs help getting body of Michael David Copeland out of Iraq


Iraq releases body of US contractor after dispute
June 27, 2012
CBS News

BAGHDAD — The body of an American contractor who was found dead in Baghdad was flown back to the U.S. on Tuesday after a two-week bureaucratic debate over whether the Iraqi government would perform an autopsy on his remains.

Officials said Michael David Copeland, 37, is among a handful of Americans working for the U.S. government to die in Iraq since December. That's when a security agreement between the two nations expired, eliminating immunities that shielded the U.S. military from local laws.

Copeland's case is a snapshot of the new reality of working in Iraq for Americans who, over the years, were accustomed to vast privileges and influence that disappeared when the U.S. troops left.

Officials said Copeland, of Colbert, Okla., moved to Iraq within the last month to take a job on an aviation project with DynCorp International under a State Department contract. His body was found in his bed on June 9, family members said. No foul play was suspected.
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Michael David Copeland served this nation as Marine and then in the National Guards. Had he been killed wearing either uniform, the government would make sure his body came home soon afterwards, but he died working for a defense contractor in Iraq instead. His family needs help getting his body home.

Family of Oklahoma contractor who died in Iraq seeks help getting his body returned
Tulsa World, Okla
Published: June 20, 2012

Family members of a civilian contractor who died in Iraq this month are asking for government officials to put pressure on the Iraqi government to release the body to them.

Michael David Copeland - from Colbert in southern Oklahoma, who served in the Marines and with the Oklahoma Air National Guard - was found dead June 9 in his living quarters in Baghdad. His cause of death has not been released, said Ashley Burke, the vice president of communication for DynCorp International, the company at which Copeland worked.

Michael Wayne Copeland, his father, said his family has spoken with officials from the U.S. State Department and the congressional delegation, but he hasn't seen results.

"Everyone is sorry for our loss and his concern; however, his remains are still in Baghdad," his father said. "All we're interested in is knowing what happened to him and getting him home to lay him to rest."

Copeland's father said he was contacted June 9 by DynCorp officials and notified of his son's death. He said his son had been in Iraq working as an airplane mechanic about a week before his death.

Copeland, 37, served two tours of duty with the Marines before he left and joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard, where he served on another tour. His total military career spanned 13 years, his father said.
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