By: Michael Werner
The suffering families of those lost in the events of September 11, 2001 will be further dismayed to learn that the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware reportedly disposed of the body parts of some Pentagon and Shanksville, P.A. crash victims by burning and dumping their remains in a landfill.
According to a report commissioned by an independent panel, “several portions of remains” that could not be identified were cremated, placed in biomedical waste disposal containers, and deposited in a landfill following incineration. Sadly, the report’s findings only add to prior concerns over Dover Air Force Bases’ handling of September 11th recovery measures; the Dover base reportedly lost the body parts of two service members in 2009 and sanctioned the sawing off of a deceased Marine’s arm without first informing his family. This latest review was ordered by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta following negative conclusions drawn from both a 2005 internal investigation and 2011 mortuary reports. In light of the considerable time period examined, it is feared that the base has employed these practices for many years.
A spokeswoman for the families of those that perished in Shanksville, P.A. said in a statement on February 28th: “This is impossible to believe. The remains from the Flight 93 crash were under the care and control of the great Somerset County coroner, Wallace Miller. He has said that no remains were sent to Dover.”
Why has it taken so long for this “gross mismanagement” to reach the public realm? Just last month the Office of Special Counsel filed its own report, where it alleged that mortuary personnel had retaliated against other employees after the employees raised concerns about the mishandling of remains. That, paired with the heightened obligations and sensitivity accompanying matters pertaining to the victims of September 11th, may have unfortunately led to a policy of concealment.
In mid-March the Air Force is set to determine whether three top mortuary officials should have been fired in connection with the Dover problems. In the meantime, officials of numerous governmental bodies are investigating the Dover claims; we will keep you updated on all developments.