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A former Camp Pendleton commander believes senior Air Force officials "should be fired" after the mishandling of remains at Dover Air Force Base. Tony Shin reports.
A former Camp Pendleton commander believes senior Air Force officials "should be fired" after the mishandling of remains at Dover Air Force Base.
Dover AFB is the gateway for fallen U.S. service members who died in war zones all over the world. It is the place where remains are brought in for processing in preparation for funerals. It is also the place where some remains were mishandled, according to military officials.
After an 18-month investigation into the mortuary at Dover, investigators found some remains were lost including body parts of fallen service members.
In two cases, small bags of remains were found empty after the contents had spilled out from slits in the sides of the bags.
In one case, workers at the mortuary sawed off a piece of arm bone, so a jacket would fit on a service member's body for an open casket funeral. Family members were not told about the body part modification, according to investigators.
"On our turf, in a secure environment with no bullets flying that these people could not do their job for those who died in the service of our country is unconscionable," said former Camp Pendleton commander and retired Brigadier General Mike Neil.
Three Air Force officials were reprimanded for the "inadequate" handling of the remains.
Neil told NBCSanDiego that reprimands aren't enough and the senior officials, "should be fired."
He said it is crucial every piece of a fallen servicemember be brought home to the family.
"They must be secure in knowing that the remains of their loved one are in that coffin, and have not been violated in anyway," Neil said.
Dover Air Force Base has handled the remains of more than 6,000 U.S. service members from Iraq and Afghanistan.