Air Force Lost Fallen Soldiers' Body Parts

Probe finds 'gross mismanagement' of dead at Dover Air Force Base mortuary
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2011 2:03 PM CST
Air Force Lost Fallen Soldiers' Body Parts
The coffins of US soldiers are seen aboard a cargo plane in Dover, Del.   (AP Photo/Department of Defense via, File)

Federal investigators savaged officers in charge of the Dover Air Force Base mortuary today, accusing them of “gross mismanagement” in their handling of America’s war dead. Among their alleged screw-ups: losing body parts, keeping poor inventory records, and, in one case, sawing off a dead Marine’s arm without consulting his family, the Washington Post reports. Three men—the former mortuary commander and two other senior officers—have been disciplined and reassigned, but not dismissed.

The Air Force Inspector General conducted an investigation, which the Office of Special Counsel tore into today. In what the Post calls a "blistering response," the agency faulted the Air Force for not opting for stricter punishment, noted that "several of the Air Force’s findings are not supported by the evidence and thus do not appear reasonable" and pointed a finger at its "failure to acknowledge culpability for wrongdoing." Three civilian whistleblowers outed the base, saying they first noticed the problems when an ankle went missing in 2009—the first in a string of missing body parts. They also accuse officials of shipping fetal remains in a cardboard box instead of an aluminum case, and, in the case of the aforementioned Marine, cutting the bone because they couldn’t fit him into the dress uniform he was to be buried in. The Air Force has set up a hotline to deal with relatives of those who may have been affected. Click to read the entire piece. (More Dover Air Force Base stories.)

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