Grave Mistake at Arlington National Cemetery Could Be Over 6,000

The most disciplined organization in our government seems to have the least organized cemetery. With more and more records being lost or found incorrect, and graves left without tombstones, the number of burial errors has risen from hundreds to thousands at Arlington National Cemetery. The Associated Press reports:

Estimates of the number of graves that might be affected by mix-ups at Arlington National Cemetery grew from hundreds to as many as 6,600 on Thursday, as the cemetery’s former superintendent blamed his staff and a lack of resources for the scandal that forced his ouster.

John Metzler, who ran the historic military burial ground for 19 years, said he accepts “full responsibility” for the problems.

But he also denied some of the findings by Army investigators and suggested cemetery employees and poor technology were to blame for remains that may have been misidentified or misplaced. He said the system used to track grave sites relied mostly on a complicated paper trail vulnerable to error.

“Personally it is very painful for me that our team at Arlington did not perform all aspects of its mission to the high standard required,” he told a Senate panel. He was subpoenaed to testify.

Metzler and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, were forced to retire after Army investigators found that as many as 211 graves were unmarked or misidentified. The report by the Army Inspector General’s office accused Metzler of repeatedly failing to ensure burials were being done properly and of failing to respond after unmarked graves were discovered.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of an oversight panel on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that her investigation has revealed far higher estimates of the number of graves affected. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said she believes that between 4,900 and 6,600 graves may be unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps.

Kathryn Condon, who was hired to fix the cemetery’s problems, testified that the Army was still trying to determine exactly how many burial sites could be affected. But, she said, “I am confident there are probably other map errors” beyond the 211 sites initially identified by Army investigators.

Metzler said an inspector general finding that more than 100 graves lacked a headstone or burial card was not entirely accurate and that it was mostly internal working maps used by cemetery employees that were mislabeled.

Story continued at AP News

6 Comments on "Grave Mistake at Arlington National Cemetery Could Be Over 6,000"

  1. bigncornfed | Jul 30, 2010 at 12:56 am |

    Let's look at the bright side… it's not like the guys who are being misplaced and screwed over at Walter reed. These guys are already dead, they don't care anymore! Most importantly, this was a S.N.A.F.U. which is forgivable. Sending money to Pakistan knowing damn well it will be used by the I.S.I. to fund suicide bombers who will blow themselves up in order to put our best people into Arlington…THAT is unforgivable.

  2. tonyviner | Jul 30, 2010 at 1:12 am |

    They don't care about these guys when they are alive, why should I believe that they care after they are dead.?

  3. When I heard this, you know what I thought of? I thought of the WWI Memorial in Verdun, France that I visited when I was in High School.

    The main building is shaped like a giant artillery shell, with two single-story, ground-level wings on either side. The floor of those wings isn't actually on ground level though. It is raised slightly, and there are a series of windows along the ground level with which one can see into the basement from.

    And the basement is filled with nothing but bones. Random, mixed up bones of thousands of soldiers. Another part of the memorial in Verdun is underground, behind a wall. Thousands of soldiers simply buried alive in their trenches are behind that wall.

    What happened at Arlington was impossible stupid, but I simply wanted to point out how much worse it could be. We could be drowning in so many dead that we don't have TIME to give them separate grave sites.

    However, I would ALSO agree with what bigcornfed stated — that it is absolutely OBSCENE that we send our young men and women into the chipper-shredder, while our “allies” in Pakistan simultaneously take our tax money, and kill our kids. THAT pisses me off. And since most of the original attackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian, and none were Afghan, I still want somebody to explain to me why we aren't beating the living shit out of those Saudi jerks.

    Oh wait, right….. oil.

    So maybe the explanation I'm seeking is why it is that we're giving more than $70 billion dollars a year in subsidies and tax breaks to the oil industry which makes more in straight profit than the Gross National Product of 183 nations in the world. But we're GIVING them money, so that they in turn can raise our gas prices 35% in just the last half of 2007 ALONE?????

    Help me with the logic here.

  4. They lost my father at the Riverside National Cemetery and want to tell the family that we don’t really know which cemetery he is buried at. This is not my problem. I have always asked before and been told. Now they can’t find a record of his having been buried there.

  5. They lost my father at the Riverside National Cemetery and want to tell the family that we don't really know which cemetery he is buried at. This is not my problem. I have always asked before and been told. Now they can't find a record of his having been buried there.

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