The remains of hundreds of Air Force dead were incinerated and dumped in a Virginia landfill, the Air Force has revealed.
A November report in the Washington Post revealed the unauthorized practice in which the Air Force admitted it lost track of just how many remains were dumped in the landfill. This week, the Air Force acknowledged that the remains of at least 274 airmen had been dumped in the landfill.
What’s even more concerning for many is the fact that the Air Force hasn’t been entirely upfront about the process.
“It’s not just that they’re stonewalling people who ask,” Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., told the Associated Press regarding the inquiries made about the issue. “I think they don’t want to face up to it.”
In fact, according to a letter from a Pentagon official uncovered by the Post, the military didn’t want to take the time to sort out which remains were dumped in the landfill.
“It would require a massive effort and time to recall records and research individually,” acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Jo Ann Rooney, wrote in a Nov. 22 letter to Holt.
Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars agreed with Rooney saying that given the nature of the current wars, it’s sometimes difficult to identify bodies.
“These kids are being put in body bags with all the parts that can possibly be retrieved, and then a month, two months later, somebody might be patrolling down that same alley way and find a finger,” Davis told the AP. “Consulting the families is the thing to do.”
Holt on the other hand, does not agree with that response.
“We spent millions, tens of millions, to find any trace of soldiers killed, and they’re concerned about a ‘massive’ effort to go back and pull out the files and find out how many soldiers were disrespected this way?” he told the Post. “They just don’t want to ask questions or look very hard.”
Air Force officials say the practice has ended.