WASHINGTON (AP) — An Air Force investigation finds that the remains of U.S. war dead that arrive back at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware haven't always been handled properly.
According to the investigation, the Air Force mortuary that receives the bodies of U.S. military personnel and prepares them for burial lost portions of the remains twice in 2009. It prompted the Air Force to discipline three senior officials for "gross mismanagement."
Investigators reviewed 14 sets of allegations of improper handling of remains, as reported by three whistleblower workers at Dover.
In addition to the two cases of lost body pieces, the Air Force reviewed allegations that mortuary officials acted improperly in sawing off an arm bone that protruded from the body of a Marine in a way that prevented his body from being placed in his uniform for viewing before burial.
The Marine's family had requested seeing him in his uniform, but was not consulted about the decision to remove the bone, and wasn't told that it was done.
One of the cases of missing parts involved small bone fragments associated with two crew members recovered from an Air Force F-15 fighter that crashed in Afghanistan. Another involved a piece of human tissue associated with a soldier killed in Afghanistan. None of the missing pieces was recovered.
(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)