Abizaid to head panel inquiry of Dover morturay

Dignified transfer

A carry team transfers the remains of an airmen at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (Roland Balik / Joint Base Lewis McChord)

The former commander of U.S. Central Command will lead the Pentagon’s review of how the remains of the nation’s war dead were handled at Dover Port Mortuary.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta asked retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to replace former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, who recused himself from the position when he decided to run for the Senate, according to a DoD press release.

Abizaid, who retired in 2007 after 34 years of service, will chair a panel of medical and funeral-service officials in reviewing the steps Air Force officials took after investigators found “gross mismanagement” at the mortuary that prepares the remains of the country’s fallen for burial.

Investigators spent a year reviewing 14 allegations by whistleblowers, which include the loss of body parts. In one incident, mortuary employees removed a Marine’s arm without consent of the family.

Panetta also told Air Force Secretary Michael Donley to reconsider whether he went far enough in disciplining three mortuary officials.

The panel has 60 days to complete a report from the time it was appointed on Nov. 8.


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