US military families await mortuary investigation results
Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:33AM
Gary Anthony Ramsay, Press TV, Central Virginia
When fallen US service members return to the United States their bodies are expected to be treated with honor, dignity and respect.
But an investigation has revealed that hundreds of military remains instead- ended up here - in a garbage dump. It is the latest revelation in an ongoing probe of the Dover Air Force Mortuary Affairs office. Gari Lyn Smith discovered this is where some remains of her husband Sgt. Scott Smith were deposited. Smith was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2009
This is the King George County Landfill in central Virginia. It is a garbage dump where all forms of human waste are deposited on a daily basis. It is probably the last place where Americans imagine their fallen heroes might end up.
So far investigators say the remains of some 273 service-members were taken here over a two year period. The mortuary scandal has been a black eye for the US Military as it closes down operations in Iraq. Workers here revealed a pattern of mishandling that included burning and even losing body parts.
That's what Patricia O'Kane-Trombley learned about portions of her son's remains. Capt Thomas Gramith was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 with his co-pilot.The thought of her son ending up in a landfill sickens hers.
The investigation is also seeking to see if supervisors who were caught trying to cover up the scandal were sufficiently punished. The commander received a letter of reprimand, two civilian supervisors were transferred, but no one was fired. That's doesn't sit well with Congressman Mike Coffman. The former Marine and veteran says criminal charges should be considered as well.
More than 47 hundred US service members have died fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 13 hundred have passed through the gates of Dover. Hundreds of families may now be wondering if their loved ones came to rest like this or like this.