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September 20, 2010


Government accountability in action:

The father was already grieving and reeling from yet another confrontation with Arlington personnel the day before. He demanded and Arlington agreed the vault inside the grave would not be opened until he arrived the morning of the 15th. The father apprehensive about the day’s events was anxious if they would find his son inside. He fumed from yet another breach of trust. The father rejects the dog tags offered to him as verification by Arlington. The dog tags may have been sufficient had the integrity of the coffin not been breached. However, since it had been prior to the family’s arrival; the father then requested visual verification. The staff at Arlington appeared unprepared for what was to come next, thus tipping the father’s hand.

His adrenalin already maxed and because of Arlington’s ineptness, the father instinctively jumps onto the truck in his dress clothes despite the rancid odor. The father begins digging through the water soaked; stench filled rotting dismembered remains of his son, in search of the severed arm with a tattoo on it. Meanwhile the Funeral Director is standing to the side, gagging. The father looks at the Funeral Director and tells him, “Get over here and do your job!”

Arlington’s assistance during this time consisted of providing him with latex gloves.

I read about this last week and was literally stunned that DNA analysis was not offered to these families. Of course I don't expect to see much about this in the press.

Not pretty enough for a Pulitzer.

Posted by Cassandra at September 20, 2010 12:44 PM

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Thanks Cassandra. I am so mad and sick to my stomach. I was at the funeral for Marine Corporal Brian Downard this morning, and then to come back to the office to read this story.

I just want to go home and hold my dog.

Posted by: Mothax at September 20, 2010 02:08 PM

I am glad you wrote about it, hard as it is to read.

Sometimes words just fail.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 20, 2010 02:24 PM

I really cannot process this. A classmate of my son, and the classmate's brother both serve in the Old Guard. This is as sacred as secular gets.

Posted by: tomg51 at September 20, 2010 02:47 PM

I have not felt this helpless in a long time.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 20, 2010 03:05 PM

Last time I was home, KtLW asked me if I wanted to be buried at Arlington -- I told her to just put me in a leaf bag on the curb on trash day, because my corpse would be treated with more respect.

She thought I was joking...

Posted by: BillT at September 20, 2010 04:27 PM

I was busy being stressed out because I'd been really stupid about something, and then I read this. My God.

Posted by: htom at September 20, 2010 05:45 PM

Any thoughts about what we can do to help?

Posted by: Richard at September 20, 2010 06:05 PM

I don't know that we can "help" the situation, other than raise holy heck for Arlington to get their shit together. This is beyond unacceptable...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 21, 2010 12:03 AM

Wow. I am speechless, and I read this yesterday.
I know that we had our son buried in another state. At each step, there was confirmation of the remains. My brother ensured his coffin was on the plane, and at the funeral home, he and the directors confirmed the remains were my son's. The same thing happened at the gravesite.

There is even evidence of his burial; and should we decide to disinter him, and rebury him, the Engineer said he would have no problem doing what this father did. Neither would I.

That the system is broke is a scandal. That a financial audit revealed dereliction of duty is shameful.

I have to ask: Isn't confirmation done at every step of the way? It seems that the military does a stellar job of accompanying the remains home, and turning them over to the families. Why Arlington can't do the same is beyond me.

Posted by: Cricket at September 21, 2010 03:18 AM

DNA testing is reserved for those the government class deems worthy of expenditure.

Budget issues.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 21, 2010 10:39 AM

DNA testing is reserved for those the government class deems worthy of expenditure.

And yet every servicemember's DNA is *already* on record...

Posted by: BillT at September 21, 2010 03:14 PM

And to verify the record, they must grab a sample and test it.

That's additional manpower. union rules may rule that out.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 21, 2010 04:43 PM

It appears that the closer one gets to the geographical center of bureaucracy the level of efficiency and accountability declines accordingly.

Let us check the track record:

Failure of regulatory agencies to do their J.O.B.;

1. Two bank meltdowns over the last couple of decades;

2. Financial meltdown as a result of Community Reinvestment act;

3.Enron, AIG, Countrywide-Derivatives developed to make toxic housing bubble loans palatable for sale;

4. EPA/Commerce failures highlighted by Exxon Valdez, refinery explosions in Texas, BP blowout;

5. San Bruno pipeline explosion due to catastrophic failure of identified problem pipe;

6. Veterans Administration failure to properly maintain hospitals and burials at Arlington and who knows where else.

7. Homeland Security failures that should have resulted in catastrophic plane crashes over populated areas saved only by incompetence of suicide bombers.

The system always seems to have worked, except for "stuck on stupid" hurricane Katrina, where the the catastrophe du jour is deemed to have been handled according to plan AFTER THE EVENT as in response and not prevention.

What we have here is the culmination of a failed system of bureaucracy who spend billions of tax payer money for the privilege of being in a perpetual blissful state of no accountability and terminal stupidity. The dignity of our military is compromised by the elitist attitude of political appointees throwing lower level apparatchiks under the bus when ultimate audit shines bright on their collective malfeasance.

These people have no shame. Their shamelessness does not diminish the dignity of the families and lost loved ones abused before and after death by the number crunchers whose battle cry is pathetically "Not my job."

With the memory of this travesty fresh in our minds and hearts, what are we going to do about our government's failure to follow our code:


We are being ill-served yet again.

Posted by: vet66 at September 21, 2010 07:55 PM

They are serving Man though, for the man course.

Just got to be patient Vet.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 23, 2010 08:01 AM