Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Remains of Hundreds of Fallen American Soldiers Sent to Landfill

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Remains of Hundreds of Fallen American Soldiers Sent to Landfill

Article excerpt

Such a practice occurred far more often the Air Force originally acknowledged, The Washington Post reports. The partial remains of at least 274 US service personnel were handled this way.

The US Air Force dumped the incinerated, partial remains of at least 274 American service personnel who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last month, The Washington Post published an initial report on the practice, focusing on a single instance in which the partial remains of Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith, killed in Iraq in 2006, were sent to a landfill. Now, on Wednesday, the Post reported that such a practice had occurred far more often than the Air Force had acknowledged.

The Air Force runs the mortuary at Dover, Del., the place where the remains of soldiers and other US military personnel are brought from overseas. In some cases, remains have been difficult to identify because of insufficient DNA information. These cases often involve the explosion of roadside bombs in which more than one American is killed.

While the practice of cremating and then disposing of some body parts and other remains ended in 2008, a formal investigation continues. Family members, distraught at the news, had been told that their loved ones' remains had been handled in a respectful and dignified manner.

"The landfill disposals were never formally authorized under military policies or regulations," The Washington Post reports. "They also were not disclosed to senior Pentagon officials who conducted a high-level review of cremation policies at the Dover mortuary in 2008, records show."

On Thursday, the Air Force admitted that it sent more sets of remains to a Virginia landfill than it had originally acknowledged, CNN reported.

"Backtracking on initial information about how it handled the remains of American service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force now says the cremated body parts of hundreds of the fallen were burned and dumped in the landfill," according to CNN. …

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