Military Dumped Soldiers’ Remains in Va. Landfill
The Washington Post reported today that the Air Force secretly “dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 cremated American troops in a Virginia landfill,” soldiers whose families had “authorized” the military to “dispose of” them honorably.
The landfill, King George County Waste Management, was the site of Pentagon debris from 9/11, chosen at the time because it’s “out in the middle of nowhere… a very serene environment,” according to a report from that era.
The families of the deceased weren’t told their loved ones’ remains ended up in landfills, a practice which ended three years ago, according to the Post. The Air Force didn’t notify families because they’d signed forms allowing the military to dispose of fragments of the soldiers if they were found, without telling them. The military would uncover pieces of fallen soldiers and fly them home.
This wasn’t the first reported incidence of fallen troops finding their final rest in a landfill, either; the Post reported a single case of a dead soldier’s ashes winding up in a landfill in Dover, Delaware, last month.
The Air Force said it had no way of knowing the actual number of soldiers whose remains were dumped into King George County landfill between 2003 and 2008; they’ve since abandoned the practice in favor of burial at sea. Osama bin Laden is the most famous example of this practice.
Delaware is the main port of entry for American military dead. Since 2001 more than 6,300 troops passed through the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base. Counting the actual number of troops whose remains ended up in the landfill would require the Air Force and Pentagon to search through thousands of records.
The Post reported “an additional group of 1,762 unidentified remains were collected from the battlefield and disposed of in the same manner, the Air Force said … The total number of incinerated fragments dumped in the landfill exceeded 2,700.”
The mortuary was sealed from the public during the Bush administration, a policy dating from the first Persian Gulf War, until 2009.