Troops in the landfill


An investigation into why the remains of some war dead were sent to a landfill in Virginia was met mostly with a shrug today until someone determined that the unidentified remains of victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon were sent there, too.

According to the Washington Post:

At a news conference, (retired Army Gen. John P. ) Abizaid said he could not quantify how many remains of Sept. 11 victims were disposed of in a landfill. He said his panel was directed to examine current operations at the Dover mortuary and make recommendations for improvements, not investigate past problems.

“You’ll have to ask the question elsewhere,” he said when reporters pressed him to elaborate on how the remains of Sept. 11 victims were handled, as well as other incidents of malfeasance at Dover that were flagged in his report. “What we didn’t do was go back and take a detailed look at the records to see what went on.”

Still, an appendix to Abizaid’s report lists several previously undisclosed incidents of mismanagement, mishandled body parts and other botched cases at the Dover mortuary, dating back for a decade.

“There was no indication that remains from the attack on the World Trade Center in New York were involved,” the Associated Press reports.

Maybe not there, but remains from the World Trade Center were sent to a landfill. I reported on that as far back as 2004. The remains were eventually moved and now the controversy is over whether some of them should be placed in the new 9/11 museum in New York.

But lost in the interest of 9/11 victims, are the mistreated remains of soldiers returned home.

Stars and Stripes reported the people in charge of the work weren’t very skilled or professional:

Among the initial findings: body parts packaged in plastic bags were mislabeled and lost; cremated remains wrer thrown in a Virginia landfill; and one fallen Marine’s mangled arm was sawed off, without family notification, so the body would fit in the casket.

Today’s report concluded that embalmers should have the most up-to-date training. The new version should make clear that the remains of people killed in the service of their country should not be treated like the trash.