Service members' ashes dumped into landfill

December 8, 2011 8:05:23 PM PST
It was a call no wife should ever have to take. Her husband was killed while serving his country overseas.

But, when his remains came home, his treatment was anything but dignified.

What happened to him is part of a national scandal.

The remains of hundreds of service members were dumped in a landfill, but how could that happen?

"He told me no one wanted your husband, so he was cremated along with the rest of the medical waste from the hospital and thrown in the trash," said Gari Lynn Smith, widow.

Gari Lynn Smith couldn't believe what she'd just heard.

Is it possible that the very people who are charged with the dignified disposition of the bodies of American soldiers who fought and died for their country could have done that to her husband? So, she asked in writing.

"That's when I received a letter from Dover stating that he was thrown in a landfill and that this brings you comfort," Smith said.

Scott Smith had the most dangerous job on earth in 2006, he checked and disposed of improvised explosive devices, bombs, in Iraq.

He was disposing of one bomb when he stepped on another and it exploded.

Most of his body was recovered immediately, but some parts were not included in the casket that his widow buried, and that is the portion that the Pentagon admits was cremated and disposed of in a landfill.

Thursday, the Pentagon admitted the partial remains of 274 soldiers were disposed of in that way.

"We regret any additional grief to the families that past practices may have caused. We are proud of the Dover Mortuary and employees in their unfailing dedication. It is their commitment to the mission that resulted in the changes to these processes in 2008," said Lt. Gen. Darrel D. Jones, U.S. Air Force.

"I really thought that at least my husband was taken care of and treated with honor and dignity at Dover because they of all the people in this country would know how important it is for these soldiers and service members coming through the halls," Smith said.