Atrocious: Remains of Soldiers Killed in Action Dumped in Landfill

Katie Pavlich

11/10/2011 12:29:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

The Washington Post has uncovered a truly atrocious story about the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Soldiers coming home from war to their familes for the very last time, have been treated like trash.

The Dover Air Force Base mortuary for years disposed of portions of troops’ remains by cremating them and dumping the ashes in a Virginia landfill, a practice that officials have since abandoned in favor of burial at sea.

The mortuary in Delaware, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead and the target of federal investigations of alleged mishandling of remains, engaged in the practice from 2003 to 2008, according to Air Force officials. The manner of disposal was not disclosed to relatives of fallen service members.

Air Force officials acknowledged the practice Wednesday in response to inquiries from The Washington Post. They said the procedure was limited to fragments or portions of body parts that were unable to be identified at first or were later recovered from the battlefield, and which family members had said could be disposed of by the military.

Gari-Lynn Smith, portions of whose husband’s remains were disposed of in the landfill after his 2006 death in Iraq, said she was “appalled and disgusted” by the way the Air Force had acted. She learned of the landfill disposal earlier this spring in a letter from a senior official at the Dover mortuary.

“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,” Smith said. “That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash.”

An Air Force document shows that the landfill is in King George County, Va. Officials with Waste Management Inc., which operates the landfill, said the company was not informed about the origin of the ashes.

And another disgusting act:

On Tuesday, the Air Force acknowledged that the mortuary had lost a dead soldier’s ankle and an unidentified body part recovered from an air crash; had sawed off a Marine’s arm so his body would fit in his casket; and had improperly stored and tracked other remains.

With Veteran's day coming tomorrow, this story is absolutely devasting. The remains of our fallen soldiers should be treated with the utmost respect, honor, dignity and care, yet in this case our soldiers were treated as disposable waste. Just awful.