from the burn pit via the sniper
Father Driven To Pick Through His Son’s Remains (Just imagine the horror)
September 20th, 2010 by MOTHAX
What follows is a guest post from Mike Warner, uncle to a fallen Marine whose body was disinterred to verify that it was buried in the right place.
Imagine Doing This
AOCS, USN Ret.
On September 15, 2010 at around 0800 in the morning, a family makes their way into Arlington National Cemetery for the Disinterment of a Marine Private killed by an IED in Al Anbar Province Iraq on 22 November 2006 killing him and two others.
As they stood at the grave site, a forklift arrives to raise a coffin from the vault that had interred it for nearly four years. Arlington knew at this point that the vault and coffin had been opened. When the family became aware of this action, an unsettling air of distrust settled upon the gathering. The father yells “you lied” as family members hold and calm him. The father already marred and angry by the uncooperative atmosphere and insensitivity of Arlington’s leadership; his grief now changes to anger. Another promise broken! Arlington, to seemingly cover their asses had breached the coffin the night before to ensure the Marine Private and the dog tags were in the assigned plot.
With a rotting corpse and the putrid stench of death permeating the air, a worker removes a dog tag from the coffin lid, wipes off the dirt, and hands it to the father. The forklift begins to raise the coffin; putrid water begins streaming out and those in attendance gasp as the fear of body parts falling from the unstable casket grips them.
Once removed, the coffin is lowered onto the bed of a truck and driven to a maintenance building where the verification process is to be held. In attendance inside were the father, a fellow Marine and friend of the Private who was to verify the remains, a Colonel, a Catholic Priest (arriving later), a Funeral Director, and some cemetery workers.
The father was already grieving and reeling from yet another confrontation with Arlington personnel the day before. He demanded and Arlington agreed the vault inside the grave would not be opened until he arrived the morning of the 15th. The father apprehensive about the day’s events was anxious if they would find his son inside. He fumed from yet another breach of trust. The father rejects the dog tags offered to him as verification by Arlington. The dog tags may have been sufficient had the integrity of the coffin not been breached. However, since it had been prior to the family’s arrival; the father then requested visual verification. The staff at Arlington appeared unprepared for what was to come next, thus tipping the father’s hand.
His adrenalin already maxed and because of Arlington’s ineptness, the father instinctively jumps onto the truck in his dress clothes despite the rancid odor. The father begins digging through the water soaked; stench filled rotting dismembered remains of his son, in search of the severed arm with a tattoo on it. Meanwhile the Funeral Director is standing to the side, gagging. The father looks at the Funeral Director and tells him, “Get over here and do your job!”
Arlington’s assistance during this time consisted of providing him with latex gloves. The father removes his rancid dress gloves used in digging through the soupy carnage and discards them in the trash. He also removes his jacket, hat and sunglasses, and continues to search for the missing arm. This arm with the tattoo would positively confirm that the unrecognizable severely decomposed corpse was his son’s. The father still searching as he inhales the pungent stench of rotting flesh discovers for the first time since his son’s death, that only a torso, arm, and leg were there.
Finally, after frantically searching the carnage, the arm is found under the torso with the tattoo mostly intact. The father in a gesture of love carefully and gently wipes away the dirt. He verifies his son. The veil of doubt is lifted. His son now placed in a new casket, the family looks on as the Private is reinterred, and now all are at peace.