Air Force Admits Losing Remains

After a yearlong investigation, the Air Force revealed that its mortuary had twice lost the remains of service members killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Three senior Air Force officials will be disciplined for “gross mismanagement,” and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for a separate investigation. All remains of the war dead go to the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where they are identified, autopsied, and prepared for transfer. In both 2009 cases of lost body parts, the service members’ available remains were returned to their families; the mishandled portions had been separated from the remains. Officials said they do not suspect foul play, criminal acts, or deliberate mishandling. The Air Force also determined that the mortuary’s top leadership failed to respond to clear signs of weakness in the accounting for human remains.