US army chaplains held fallen-soldier ceremonies on Tuesday for seven American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, whose bodies were brought to Germany for transfer to the United States.
The C-17 transport jet bearing the remains landed under overcast skies at Ramstein Air Base in the late afternoon, where it was met on the tarmac by a US army, navy and air force honour guard.
Four chaplains boarded the plane - the same type used to drop humanitarian aid over Afghanistan in the early stages of the operation - and performed the short ceremonies, reading psalms they had chosen for the occasion.
The honour guard then slowly carried the flag-draped caskets to hearses waiting near the plane.
The bodies were then individually driven to a larger C-5 transport jet waiting to take them back to the United States.
On Monday, al-Qaida and Taliban fighters using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades fired on two US helicopters, killing seven American soldiers.
Another US soldier was killed in a ground attack on Saturday shortly after American forces, joined by Afghan and other allied troops, began the offensive against hundreds of fighters of the al-Qaida terror network and the former ruling Taliban militia dug in near the town of Gardez.