WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Air Force dumped the remains of more U.S. troops in a Virginia landfill then it had previously acknowledged, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The controversial practice was abandoned three years ago, but last month the Post first reported details of body parts being cremated and dumped in the King George County landfill.
In its latest report, the Post requested information from the electronic database at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary in Delaware. Dover is the main entry point for returning war dead from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Post's investigation found the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 troops were sent to the landfill between 2004 and 2008, and the total number of incinerated fragments of body parts that were dumped exceeded 2,700.
Last month the Post quoted one widow saying she was "appalled and disgusted" to learn what happened to her husband's remains in a letter from the Air Force earlier this year. He died in Iraq in 2006.
"My only peace of mind in losing my husband was that he was taken to Dover and that he was handled with dignity, love, respect and honor," Gari-Lynn Smith told the Post. "That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash."
An Air Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told Reuters last month that families had granted the military authorization to deal with any residual remains, but acknowledged they had not been made aware those remains would end up in a landfill.
The Air Force launched a separate investigation last month into the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base. Investigators revealed the mortuary mishandled the remains of war dead, lost track of body parts and even wrongfully removing a limb of a Marine.
(Editing by Greg McCune)
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