A More Fitting Option

The Air Force leadership “immediately took steps to better the process” once it learned in 2008 that its military mortuary at Dover AFB, Del., sometimes disposed of small, subsequently identified portions of fallen service members’ remains by placing them in a landfill, said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, Air Staff lead for manpower, personnel, and services, Thursday. “The director of the Dover Port Mortuary reviewed the process and recommended to the Central Joint Mortuary Affairs board that the services implement a retirement at sea option as a more fitting option for subsequently identified portions of remains where the family chose not to be notified or take possession,” Jones told reporters Thursday in the Pentagon. Jones said prior to 2008, these portions of remains—usually small pieces of tissue and bone fragments—were escorted to a funeral home for cremation. They were then turned over to a contractor for incineration, and any residual remains were disposed of according to industry standards, which could mean disposition in a Virginia landfill. Jones’ briefing came the day after the Washington Post reported that subsequently identified remains from 274 US troops were placed in a landfill between 2003 to 2008. Continue