The Air Force mishandled human remains of America’s returning war dead at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, according to three federal investigations stemming from three civilian whistleblower accusations.
The Washington Post reports body parts were removed from corpses without family notification, or were missing from mortuary storage bags, including a dead soldier’s shattered ankle.
The Post also reports that the mortuary "for years disposed of some dead troops’ body parts by burning them and dumping the ashes in a Virginia landfill, a practice that officials have since abandoned in favor of burying the remains at sea."
A colonel and two civilian deputies were disciplined, but not fired, for alleged abuses between 2008 and 2010 at the facility, where human remains from the battlefield are repatriated.
In a written statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he "was deeply disturbed" by the Dover findings yet supported the Air Force disciplinary actions taken. Panetta has ordered the creation of an independent task force, led by former surgeon general Richard Carmona, to investigate overall current operations at Dover.