Army Job Description: 92M Mortuary Affairs Specialist

These soldiers take care of the remains of their fellow troops

The Mortuary Affairs Specialist, as the name suggests, is responsible for looking after the remains of deceased military personnel. Soldiers in this job are part of recovery, collection and identification efforts for their fallen comrades, which may include fellow soldiers, contractors and civilian employees of the Department of Defense.

They also serve as team members and recovery specialists at the U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.

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.

In 2008, the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center (JMAC) was established at Fort Lee in Virginia. The Army and Marines are the only branches of the U.S. military with dedicated mortuary affairs units.

 

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.

Another 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..

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.

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.