The U.S. Air Force disciplined three officials at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware after whistle blowers reported that they had mishandled the remains of soldiers who had been killed overseas, reportedly losing or mistreating the body parts of some bodies.
The details are coming from a report by the Air Force, which recently concluded an 18-month investigation, as well as from another report submitted by the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistleblower complaints, reports The Washington Post.
The officials disciplined in the case were reprimanded, demoted, or relocated, but not fired.
The Special Counsel apparently disagreed with the Air Force about whether or not they should have been dismissed. Fourteen civilians who worked in the Dover mortuary and detailed grisly incidents made the initial complaints that resulted in the investigation. The New York Times describes one of the most shocking incidents brought to light in the reports:
The family of the Marine had requested that they see their son one last time in uniform, but the heat from a bomb attack in Afghanistan had apparently fused a portion of his arm bone. The bare bone was sticking out, unmovable, at a 90 degree angle from his body.
Mortuary employees, who received the remains in January, 2010, could not fit the Marine in either his uniform or his casket and Mr. Keen ordered them to saw off the bone, and they put it in the uniform’s pants, without telling the family. Although the investigation said that mortuary officials should have told senior Air Force leadership what had happened, it did not say the officials did the wrong thing
Seemingly preempting what is sure to be an emotional reaction to the news, the Air Force has set up a 24-hour hotline for relatives of soldiers who have been killed in action, reports The Washington Post.