Dover Mortuary: Panetta Sets Up Independent Review

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Defense website.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has called for two reviews into reports of U.S. Forces remains returned from Iraq and Afghanistan being mishandled and cases mismanaged at the Dover Air Base mortuary.

Panetta learned of the problems at the Dover Mortuary shortly after taking office in July. The secretary has directed an independent review of the situation. (American Forces Press Service)

He also wants a review of a report on the mortuary by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel with attention to possible management reprisals against Dover Mortuary employees who reported the irregularities.

The details of mismanagement at the Dover Mortuary are wrenching especially for the families of the fallen like Marine Sgt. Daniel M. Angus, 28, who had been blown apart by a bomb in Afghanistan. His parents live in Thonotosassa, Florida. A Washington Post article details his case:

The military, it turned out, had kept a painful secret. Before the funeral, while embalmers were preparing what was left of Angus’s shattered body at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, they had trouble fitting him into a dress uniform. The heat of the explosion had fused his upper left arm bone at an awkward angle. Without asking his parents’ permission, the embalmers sawed it off, pinning a sleeve over the stump.

You can read the full story by Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post  HERE.

Panetta’s independent panel named to investigate the Dover Mortuary current operations and procedures:

  • Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. Surgeon General
  • Retired Army Gen. Fred Franks, a member of DOD’s health board
  • Ruth Stonecifer, representative of families supported by the Dover Port Mortuary
  • Congressman Vic Snyder, a doctor and former Democratic U.S. representative from Arkansas
  • Garold Huey, a funeral director and embalmer who served in the Navy as enlisted member-embalming technician
  • Jacquelyn Taylor, executive director of the New England Institute and an internationally recognized leader in funeral service education
  • Dr. Bruce Parks, a forensic pathologist.
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