Ellicott City company closemouthed on reports of contract for body bags

January 17, 1991|By Randi Henderson

An Ellicott City company with a contract to produce body bags has been besieged by calls from the press, ever since several news reports named the C. R. Daniels Co. as a maker of what the Department of Defense calls "pouches for human remains."

"We have had calls from all of the networks, from all kinds of publications," said Hugh Blaha, vice president of the company. "We will not discuss any defense contract that we have."

The company, which makes canvas bags, received a $294,015 contract from the Defense Department last month.

Mr. Blaha did say that body bags make up only a very small percentage of his company's business.

The Defense Department has reportedly ordered 16,099 new body bags, but a spokesman, Capt. Sam Grizzle, would not confirm the number or connect new orders to Operation Desert Shield, now Desert Storm.

"We keep on hand a sufficient quantity, and any new orders do not necessarily relate to anticipated casualties," he said. "As far as we know, no large orders have been shipped in conjunction with Operation Desert Shield. There are body bags throughout the world, and there's always an oversupply wherever we are."

Captain Grizzle also said that the Defense Department was in the process of replacing nylon body bags with "more durable" rubber bags such as the ones made by C. R. Daniels. The bags are made of a special olive, rubber-coated fabric. They measure 7 feet 10 inches by 38 inches by 6 inches.

Although the Defense Department avoids using the phrase "body bag," euphemisms don't change what these items will be used for. "No matter what you call them," Mr. Blaha said, "it's not a nice thing."

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