Air Force Dumped Ashes of 274 Troops in Landfill

Saturday, December 10, 2011
Dover Air Force Base (photo: Roland Balik, U.S. Air Force)
The partial remains of more than 270 American soldiers were twice-burned before they were discarded into a landfill, according to the latest development in the U.S. Air Force controversy.
 
Air Force leaders admitted this week that the number of personnel whose ashes were thrown out along with medical waste was considerably larger than previously said. The total now stands at 274.
 
Investigators are still trying to find out how the service allowed such a mistake to take place repeatedly from 2003 to 2008. Since then, the cremated partial remains have been buried at sea.
 
What is known is officials at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware contracted with local funeral homes to have unidentified body parts cremated. The remains were then returned to the base in urns. After that the ashes wound up in sealed boxes containing medical waste—which was then shipped out for incineration and eventual disposal into a Virginia landfill.
 
When asked by reporters about the screw-up, Lieutenant General Darrell Jones, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for personnel, said the two-step process of cremating and incinerating the troops’ partial remains was “in accordance with industry standards at the time.” Jones, however, was unable to cite the source of the standards when pressed by the media.
 
Families of any fallen troops can call Dover’s hotline (1-855-637-2583) or e-mail officials at dover.pm@pentagon.af.mil to determine whether their deceased service members’ remains were among the 274.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
In War Dead Inquiry, a Confounding Question (by Mary Pat Flaherty, Washington Post)
Air Force Dumped Ashes of More Troops’ Remains in Va. Landfill Than Acknowledged (by Craig Whitlock and Mary Pat Flaherty, Washington Post)

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