Although the U.S. Air Force has acknowledged it took part in the shocking practice of dumping remains of fallen soldiers in a Virginia landfill, new information reveals that the dumping was more widespread and pervasive than previously acknowledged.
The secretive practice of disposing of troop remains in landfills was halted three years ago, but new evidence from the Air Force reveals that the remains from at least 274 fallen American soldiers were dumped at the landfill, according to The Washington Post.
The practice of troop dumping occurred at the Dover Air Base in Virginia and was first exposed a month ago.
The Dover Air Base serves as one of the main ports of entry for a majority of U.S. soldiers lost overseas.
At the time of exposure, the Air Force maintained that it could not estimate how many fallen troops had body parts sent to the landfill and Pentagon officials said that determining how many troop remains were sent to the landfill would require “a massive effort.”
Nevertheless, after pushing and tugging by family members of fallen soldiers and media outlets, the Air Force finally released numbers indicating that the practice, which occurred from 2004 to 2008, was hardly miniscule.
The Air Force said that 976 fragments from 274 military personnel where disposed of in the landfill. In addition, 1,762 unidentified remains were also disposed of in the same manner.
Although family members had authorized the military to depose of the body parts in a respectful manner, families were not informed that body parts were being disposed of in a landfill and records show that landfill disposals were never formally authorized or recognized under military policies.
Air Force officials discounted the practice in 2008 because they realized that "there was a better way to do it," but family members of fallen soldiers are not satisfied with the way the Pentagon has gone about disclosing the disheartening information.
"They have known that they were doing something disgusting, and they were doing everything to keep it from us," said Gari-Lynn Smith, a widow of an Army sergeant in Iraq whose remains were disposed of in the landfill.